Aurora Centre for the study of Ancient Civilizations, Peking University
Zhengzhou Municipal Institute of Archaeology and Cultural Relics
This monograph is report on the excavation at the Xinzhai 新砦 site in the Central Plains area of China. The site (E 113°32.5’, N34°26.5’), which is 125 to 140m above the sea – level, is located at the Xinzhai Village of the Liuzhai 刘寨 Township, and 22.5km southeast to the downtown of Xinmi 新密 City of Henan 河南 Province.
The about 100 ha site covers four natural villages of the Xinzhai Village – the Sugou 苏沟, Liangjiatai 梁家台, Meitugou 煤土沟 and Dongwan 东湾. It was discovered in 1964 and had been firstly excavated in 1979. The Aurora Center for the study of Ancient Civilizations, Peking University and the Zhengzhou Municipal Institute of Archaeology and Cultural Relics had conducted a joint excavation at the site from 1999 to 2000 which exposed an area of 486.31 sq m and unearthed a large amount of features and artifacts from the Longshan 龙山 to the Erlitou 二里头 periods. The remains can be divided into three phases.
Remain of the first phase, including pits, burials, a part of a ditch and artifacts, belongs to the Meishan 煤山 Type of the Zhongyuan 中原 Longshan Culture dating from 2050 BC to 1900 BC. It can be further divided into two sub – phases: the early sub – phase dating from 2050 BC to 2000 BC and the late sub – phase dating to 2000 BC to 1900 BC. Tools of this phase consist of stone hoe, stone spade, stone axe, bone chisel and bone awl. Shell was mainly used to make arrowhead. Deep – belly pot, bowl and small – mouth high – neck jar were the typical ceramic vessels.
The second phase the so – called Xinzhai phase can be dated between 1850 BC to 1750 BC. It can be further divided into two sub – phases: the early sub – phase dating to 1850 BC to 1800 BC and the late sub – phase dating to 1800 BC to 1750 BC. Features of this phase include house foundations, pits, the ditch and burials. Spade, axe, knife, arrowhead, adze, chisel and chopping tool were the main stone tools. Arrowhead, hairpin, knife, awl and needle were the main bone tools. Typical ceramic vessels include pot, lid, ding tripod, small – mouth high – neck jar, basin, dou stemmed plate and bowl (bo bowl).
Typical ceramic vessels of the third phase include deep – belly pot, lid, ding tripod and floral – mouth pot. They are similar to those of the first phase of the Erlitou culture (Erlitou Ⅰ). Hence the third phase might be contemporary with the Erlitou Ⅰ.
The 1999 to 2000 excavation at Xinzhai demonstrate the existence of the Xinzhai period between the Longshan culture and Erlitou Ⅰ. Sites of this newly recognized phase dating from 1850 BC to 1750 BC mainly distributed in an area to the east of the Songshan 嵩山 mountains – the center of the early Xia 夏 Dynasty recorded in ancient text. The new data is significant for the research on the Xia culture and the formation of the state – level Xia Dynasty.
In addition, the excavation also yielded abundant data pertaining to ancient environment, ancient plants and animals, and the diet of ancient people, which is import for a comprehensive understanding of site and its era.