The “Erlitou site and Erlitou Culture International Symposium ·China” hosted by the Institute of Archaeology, CASS and the Yanshi City municipal government was hold on 18th October at Yanshi, Henan. The more than 70 scholars from the mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and the United States participating the two-days symposium have different academic backgrounds, including archaeology, history, historical-geography, anthropology, paleography, art-history, chronology, environmental sciences, archaeometallurgy and paleoethnobotany.
The symposium received more than 50 papers pertaining to the Erlitou site and Erlitou culture. Scholars have had a warm discussion on some intriguing topics during the two days. These topics include the chronology, contents, characteristics of the Erlitou culture; the relationship between the Erlitou culture and other cultures; new discoveries at the Erlitou site and other important sites of the Erlitou culture; cultural communication and cultural landscape during the “early dynasty period” or the “formation period of the early state”; review of the study on the relationship between the Erlitou site, the Erlitou culture and the Xia and Shang Dynasties; settlement pattern of the Erlitou culture; architectures, burials, bronzes and jades of the Erlitou site. The turquoise inlaid dragon shaped object found in an elite burial last year was the superstar of the discussion. Many scholars tried to interpret this elegant object from different perspectives. As one of the most important productions of the symposium, a “Position Paper of the Erlitou site and Erlitou Culture International Symposium·China” was passed by the scholars.
The scholars are happy to see that the Erlitou site have been continually providing surprises to the public with new discoveries since its first excavation 46 years ago in 1959. These discoveries have resulted in more comprehensive researches on the site and related academic topics. Significantly, the recent discoveries at the site, including the more than 10 ha large walled palace city, the wide roads surrounding the city, the ruts on the road, the rammed earth foundations with an imaged central axes, elite burials with abundant offerings, workshop of turquoise objects manufacture and the turquoise inlaid dragon-shaped object, have led the research on the site to a new stage. Now scholars have more possibilities to get a better understanding on the site, the Erlitou culture, the Xia and Shang cultures, the early cities, the early palaces, the formation of Chinese civilizations and early states. More important, all these recent discoveries, especially the walled palace city, the ruts, and the turquoise workshop strongly indicate that the Erlitou site might be the earliest archaeologically recognizable capital city of a dynasty in China by present.
Scholars also had provided valuable advices on conservation of the site during the symposium. Some suggested that the Erlitou site, together with the Yanshi Shang city, should apply for “World Cultural Heritage”.