The eye-catching annual “China's New Archaeological Discoveries” Archaeology Forum sponsored by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) and organized by the Institute of Archaeology of CASS and Archaeology Press was held in the conference hall of CASS in Beijing on January 11th, 2010.
Six scholars from the Institute of Archaeology of CASS, the Zhejiang Provincial Institute of Archaeology and Cultural Relics, the Shanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology, the Hunan Provincial Institute of Archaeology and Cultural Relics and the Guangdong Provincial Institute of Archaeology and Cultural Relics had been invited to present their latest intriguing archaeological discoveries in 2010. Six famous scholars were invited to give commentaries and organize discussions after each presentation. More than 200 participants, including officers from the National Administration of Cultural Heritage and CASS, scholars from archaeological institutes, universities and museums, as well as journalists from different media joined the forum directed by Professor Shi Jinsong, head of the Archaeology Press.
Professor Xu Lianggao from the Institute of Archaeology of CASS gave the first presentation on the survey and excavations at the Spring and Autumn period Mudu walled city site in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province. The 2010 excavations discovered the walls, channels of the city and a large number of artifacts including ceramic sherds with stamped designs, tiles, bronze arrowheads, and proto-porcelain bowls. The tile was an important building material of high-class architectures in the Spring and Autumn period and had not been found in southeast China (the Wu and Yu States at that time) before. The survey found a large number of earth-mount tombs and stone-chamber earth-,mount tombs of the same time period in the surrounding area. All these discoveries indicate that the walled city site in the mountains area in southwest Suzhou might have been a large center of a settlement group with settlements of different size and the tombs – probably a capital in the late Spring and Autumn period. These discoveries are important for a better understanding of the social development and social organizations in the Suzhou area in the Spring and Autumn period. Professor Liu Xu from the school of Archaeology and Museology of Beijing University gave the comments after the speech.
Dr. Zheng Jianming from the Zhejiang Provincial Institute of Archaeology and Cultural Relics introduced his surveys and excavations at the kilns for proto-porcelain manufacture in the Shang period along the Eastern Tiaoxi Spring in Zhejiang. The Nanshan kiln is by present the earliest kiln for proto-porcelain manufacture ever excavated and important for the exploration of the origin of proto-porcelain. Since the kiln had been used through the whole Shang period, the unearthed artifacts are very helpful for establishing the chronological sequence of the Shang remains in this area. The manufacture of proto-porcelain in the Shang period marked the further development of craft specialization. These kilns are far from settlements and form a separate “kiln area”, indicating the independence of proto-porcelain manufacture as a specialized craft. Professor Tang Jigeng from the Institute of Archaeology of CASS gave the comments.
Professor Xie Yaoting from the Shanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology provided the latest information of the famous Western Zhou period Dahekou cemetery in the Yicheng County, Shanxi Province. The cemetery which is 4 ha in area contains more than 1000 burials. In the currently 1.5 ha exposed area, were discovered 615 burials and 22 chariot & horses pits, together with abundant bronzes, ceramic vessels, jade objects and some lacquer, tin and gold objects. The cemetery might have been the national cemetery of the Ba state as the name Babo in the inscriptions on bronze vessels indicates. The artifacts show clear influence from the Shang and Zhou cultures beside its own cultural characteristics. The cemetery is important for the research on system of enfeoffment in Western Zhou. Professor Wang Wei, head of the Institute of Archaeology of CASS gave the comments.
Professor Li Yuqun from the Institute of Archaeology of CASS talked about the 2010 excavation of the 5th century AD grottoes in the eastern and western districts of the Tuyugou site in the Shanshan county in Xinjiang. The murals in the two “central post (or big-statue)” grottoes in the two districts show the characteristics of the early period and strong local tradition, which sheds light on the origin and chronological sequence of the grottoes in Tuyugou. The large number of documents written in Chinese, Sogdian, Tibetan, Uighur, Paramita are significant for researches on the social life, religion, as well as ancient linguistics in this area. Professor Lin Meicun from the school of Archaeology and Museology of Beijing University gave the comments.
Professor Chai Huanbo from the Hunan Provincial Institute of Archaeology and Cultural Relics showed to the audiences the discoveries of the excavation at the Laosicheng walled site in Yongshun, Hunan Province in May 2010. The excavation shows that this 25 ha site consists of the palace and administration district in the center and the surrounding residential district, religion center, cemetery and relaxation district. Excavation at the Zijingshan cemetery in the southeast suburb of the walled site demonstrates that it was the burial ground of the Yongshun Tusi local chieftain in the Ming Dynasty. Stone epitaphs of the Tusi family found in the burials are valuable for the research on Tusi societies. A survey in the surrounding areas recorded more than 60 beacons, military checkpoints, farm yards, burials, religion sites and stone tablets, which are important for a comprehensive understanding of the cultural landscape in this area. The fieldwork provides a rare sample for the researches on the structure of Tusi societies as well as the development of local cities. Liu Qingzhu, professor from the Institute of Archaeology and Academician of CASS gave the comments.
Professor Cui Yong from the Center of Underwater Archaeology of Guangdong Provincial Institute of Archaeology and Cultural Relics gave the last lecture on the Nanao No.1 shipwreck. site excavated by a cooperative team of his institute and the National Center of Underwater Cultural Heritage Preservation in April 2010. The wreck is about 27 m in length, 7.5 m in the largest width and consists of at least 15 storage cabins. More than 11,000 artifacts had been found, including more than 10,000 pieces of porcelains, about 100 metal objects and 150 strings of coins. The body material, ware color, shape, blue-white designs and burning technique of the porcelains show the characteristics of those of the Jiajing reign and Wanli reign of the Ming Dynasty, indicating that they might come from the civilian kilns in southeast China including the Jingdezhen kilns in Jiangxi, the Zhangzhou kilns in Fujian, and the Dapu kilns and Raoping kilns in Guangdong. Professor Zhang Wei from the National Museum gave the comments.
Professor Bai Yunxiang, vice director of the Institute of Archaeology of CASS gave a conclusion speech after the six presentations.
(Translator: Li Xinwei)