Affirmation of Archaeological Excavation Results of Ancient Cemetery at Dongda Zhangzi
Invited by Liaoning Provincial Cultural Relic Bureau, Zhang Zhongpei, president of Chinese Society of Archaeology, Guo Dashun, leader of Liaoning Provincial Experts’ Group of Cultural Relic Protection, and some of archaeologists from the institute of archaeology CASS, went to visit ancient mortuary group having being excavated in Dongda Zhangzi, Liaoning province on 17th, November. A discussion took place, specifically concerning cultural contents, archaeological value and subsequent protection of the graves. Other people having attended the meeting include Dinghui, deputy director of Liaoning Provincial Department of Culture, Ao Fengling, deputy mayor of Huludao city, and responsible comrades from archaeological department of preservation division in State Administration of Cultural Heritage and government of Jianchang county.
Based on the introduction given by Hua Yubing, deputy director of Liaoning provincial institute of cultural relic and archaeological research and leader of excavation team responsible for this project, Dongda Zhangzi ancient cemetery is located in Jianchang town, Jianchang county of Huludao city, and evaluated as provincial cultural relic preservation unit in 2007, the cemetery has been regarded so far as the largest cemetery dated to the Warring States in the Northeastern China. Organized by Liaoning Province, field works have been done at the cemetery for a number of times since 2000. In April, 2011, archaeological excavations and investigations were conducted at Dongda Zhangzi cemetery again by Liaoning provincial institute of cultural relic and archaeological research. The effort of seven-month field work has basically led to the clarification for the scale of Dongda Zhangzi mortuary cluster. Comprehensive excavations conducted in one of the monumental graves have provided precious cultural relics, of which a larger number of painted ceramics imitating bronze for a ritual use should be noticed. Shape of the entire tomb structure is rectangular with its northern wall 9 meter, southern 8.4 meter, eastern 7.6 meter, and western 7.9 meter. The grave oriented 262°. Seven and a half, oval post grooves were found in the eastern, southern and northern walls. Accompanying the tomb was a great amount of animal bones found at the secondary platform in the eastern tomb part and an area slightly to the west. A total of 74 individuals have been identified, including thirty-one sheep, twenty-four dogs, eleven pigs, five cows, and two horses. Of the animal bones, there is no evidence for the category of a sample. This monumental tomb is characteristic of an inner coffin with two outer ones. Burial items were mostly placed between the inner and outer coffins. Most of the burial inventories were pottery in form of Ding tripods, stemmed bowls, pots and plates. The majority of them were painted ceramics. Other than pottery, there were stone ornaments found in a smaller quantity. Analyses of ceramic groups, ware shapes and presence of grave dromos, and the method of making coffins indicate the hierarchy and administration of the Warring States. Therefore, the monumental tomb may have been constructed by Yan state, during the middle of the Warring States.
According to the experts, the excavated cemetery has been considered as a significant archaeological discovery in the northeastern region of China. Three aspects accounting for its significance should been here pointed out: firstly, excavations of the monumental tomb provide the evidence of the largest tomb of Yan state in scale and that of having being one of monumental Yan state graves during the Warring States period. Secondly, the evidence of groupings of ceramics and ware shapes indicates that a portion of the northeastern region may have been a part of territory of Yan state at the time. This tendency may throw light on the adoption of the system of prefectures and counties in the northeastern region and effective jurisdiction of central governments during a time of Qin-Han periods. Thirdly, an area of western Liao may have been a cultural road connected with the northeastern and central China at the time, providing the substantial evidence for a three-step pattern of civilization development, i.e., “ancient city, ancient state, and empire”, referring to Mr. Su Bingqi. In sum, discovery and subsequent excavations of the monumental grave have reflected the information of social, history and culture.
As for the subsequent work, archaeologists have suggested that the mortuary group should be properly protected, on the one hand, especially for the security of cultural relics themselves; on the other hand, investigations, excavations and exploring should be conducted subsequently. Related studies would provide the opportunity of understanding cultural contents of the cemetery and its adjacent sites. Meanwhile, multi-disciplinary collaborations should be conducted, in order to providing cultural and archaeological information. Long-term archaeological excavation and scientific research should be prepared. Thirdly, the planning of preservation project of the cemetery and construction of archaeological site park would provide humanities landscape for Jianchang, benefit for common people and service for the society. (Translator: Sang Li)