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HomePublicationNew books
LINXI JINGGOUZI: Archaeological Report and Comprehensive research on the late Bronze Age Cemetery
From:Chinese Archaeology  Writer:  Date:2011-11-14
 
Abstract
     In 2002-2003 , Jilin University`s Research Center for Chinese Frontier Archaeology and the Inner Mongolia Archaeological Institute began a joint project to carry out excavations at the Jinggouzi site in the district of Linxi . After two excavatin expeditions , the western zone of the site `s cemetery was almost entirely exposed . The 58 tombs and the 2 ashpits , that have been excavated , reveal a new archaeological culture of the late Bronze Age , which has already been named the "Jinggouzi type" . Preliminary reports have set forth the first steps of analyzing the chronology of this cultural group , as well as their socio-economic and ethnic characteristics . Indeed , the site has already attracted the interest of the Chinese and international specialists engaged in Northern China archaeology .
     The excavations of the western zone of the Jinggouzi` s cemetery introduced a considerable amount of valuable data about the characteristics features of the nomadic cultures of early nomadic cultures in the eastern part of the Great Wall area . The authentication of the Jinggouzi cultural type not only fills the gap of the late Bronze Age in the valley of the Xilamulun River , but also has an important practical implication for the future of ongoing archaeological work in the Chifeng region with respect to the identification and study of the remains which share the same characteristics . Moreover , further research of those remains may yield important insights into the beginning and evolution of animal husbandry in the North of China during antiquity .
     This report is divided into two volumes . The first volume consists of the archaeological report on Jinggouzi site . It not only presents complete and accurate data (objectively classified by excavated structures ) , but also systematically syntheses and analyses all the excavated data , using the standard archaeological research methods . The study demonstrates that the western zone of Jinggouzi`s cemetery `s chronologically follows the period of the culture of the Upper level of Xiajiadian . Specifically ,  these remains may be dated as between the late phase of the Springs and Autumns period and the early phase of the Warring States period . From a cultural characteristics comparative perspective , the remains of the western zone of the Jinggouzi`s cemetery reveal a new archaeological culture , which can be called "Jinggouzi type" . The discovery of this cultural type fills a gap in the Bronze Age cultural development sequence in the valley of the Xilamulun River . This type of remains of the western zone of the Jinggouzi`s cemetery can be divided into two successive phases , in which may be further subdivided into three stages that reflect the chronological continuity and the stability of this cultural structure . With respect to the determination of their ethnicity , not only are the period and region consistent with the time and area of activity of the "Donghu" (Eastern Hu) people mentioned in the transmitted text , but the economical patterns also fully correspond to the subsistence mode of the Hu people described in the traditional sources . As a result , these remains may be identified as those of the ancient Donghu people , the confirmation of which , academic circles have long been seeking .
     The second volume contains comprehensive multidisciplinary studies . We conducted research using complementary analytical techniques of different fields such as physical anthropology , DNA archaeology , ossification study , metallurgy component analysis , zooarchaeology and paleo-environmental archaeology .
     Physical anthropology demonstrates that the physical characteristics of Jinggouzi cultural type `s people were somewhat identical with the characters of the Xianbei and Qidan . For example they share the prominent skull base characteristic of the Northern Asia Mongolian anthropological category , and are different than the ancient inhabitants of North-Eastern type in the Liaoxi region during the prior period and also different than the Huabei type . The interpretation of Jinggouzi cultural type`s ethnicity as Donghu people is verified by physical anthropology observation .
     According to the mitochondrial DNA analysis of the bones of the western zone of Jinggouzi `s cemetery , regarding the genetic distance , this group of ancient inhabitants was very close to the Xianbei people during Han dynasty , who are regarded as the descendant of the Donghu . Moreover , the genetic distance with the contemporary human groups of Elunchun and Ewenke is very small , which shows the possibility that the ancient people of Jinggouzi made an important genetic contribution to the formation of these two human groups . This study from molecular archaeology perspective brings to light for the first time the later developments of the Donghu people during two millennia .
     The analysis of the western zone of Jinggouzi`s cemetery `s sacrificial customs , livestock practices and burial customs establish that the subsistence mode of Jinggouzi`s cultural type was based on animal husbandry combined with fishing and hunting . In particular , animal husbandry was probably seasonal in nature . Because of the physical differences of the Jinggouzi type with the prior inhabitants of the same area , and since the cultural patterns are also different than those of the local prior culture of the upper level of Xiajiadian , we can deduce that this new type of subsistence mode was carried along by human groups coming from a northern region .
      Using the different ration of δ13C and δ15 N  isotopes analysis on the bones from the bodies of the western zone of Jinggouzi`s cemetery , we discovered that the ration of δ15 N in these skeletons was relatively high , showing that their animal food intake in their daily nutrition habits was rather high . It also suggests that the activities of animal raising and hunting took an important place in the subsistence mode at this time . The δ13C  isotope analysis reδ13C reveals that the C4 type plants (like shrub , grass , millet and corn ) took an important place in the vegetal nutrition of this human group . This shows that the ancient people from Jinggouzi were fully using the C4 type plants provided by the nearby environment as a complement for their daily meat base nutrition . It represents the main supplement of vegetal proteins in the structure of their diet , which fully reflects the fact that humans rely on environmental resources . This analysis of Jinggouzi`s ancient inhabitant diet structure using an ossification study inaugurates this type of research in the Great Wall area in Northern China .
      The results of the identification tests of the metallurgy components of the bronze artifacts discovered in the western zone of Jinggouzi`s cemetery reveals that the craftsmen of this period already consciously constituted alloy adapted to different function and different mechanical properties needed in the artifacts . Specifically , they already began to control the proportions of lead and tin bronze alloy well adjusted to smelt artifacts with the mechanical properties they needed . The results of the metal observation reveals that a sample of bronze earrings , weapons and tools excavated in the western zone of Jinggouzi`s cemetery show a rather high proportion of hot forge and cold treatment , and specially reworking to obtain the ideal strength and hardness of edges and points . Regarding the alloy components and the impurities , the bronze artifacts of the western zone of Jinggouzi`s cemetery main components were copper , tin and lead , and the main impurities were sulfides . These artifact are different than the ones of the cultural of the Upper level of Xiajiadian . For instance previous research on mining sites show Upper level of Xiajiadian` s culture bronze carry a proportion of copper , tin and arsenic containing silver . The difference of composition between the bronze artifact of the western zone of Jinggouzi`s cemetery and the ones of the culture of the Upper level of Xiajiadian not only suggests that both cultures had different sources of mineral ores , but also reveals differences in the metallurgy technology . This confirms once more that the cultural patterns , the structure of the population , the subsistence mode etc. of Jinggouzi`s type all emphasize the distinction from the culture of the Upper level of Xiajiadian .
      Furthermore , the results of the analysis of 8 pollen samples from the ashpits of the culture of the Upper level of Xiajiadian on Jinggouzi`s site and the tombs of the Jinggouzi`s type establish that the formations of the two distinctive accumulations are not contemporary . However , the characteristics of the pollens of these various samples are really similar , suggesting a vegetation-covered landscape composed of open-forests and grasslands , and a warm , if not slightly dry climate . This indicates that Jinggouzi`s area`s environment did not significantly change during a rather long time . This kind of vegetation-cover and climate both can sustain dry farming and provide the required conditions for animal husbandry , hunting and fishing activities . Therefore , both the culture of the Upper level of Xiajiadian essentially relied on developed agriculture and the Jinggouzi cultural type based on pastoralism could adapt to this habitat .
      The research on the origin of domesticated horse ,its spread and its genetic forms represents a very important research question in world archaeology . The analysis of 4 different horse bones` mitochondrial DNA excavated in 4 tombs of the western zone of Jinggouzi`s cemetery show that the 4 samples belong to 3 distinct pedigrees on a systematically developed network . This not only reflects that the fact that domesticated horses of the Jinggouzi type have a diversity of origin on their matrilineal side , but also indicates that the question of the origin of the domesticated horses in China is in truth much more complicated than previously imagined . Perhaps there are local and external factors affecting factors . However , the domesticated horses of Jinggouzi , which have been analyzed , do not demonstrate any direct matrilineal genetic relation with common wild horse which used to be widespread in China .                  
 
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