Raised-platform cemetery, altar and settlement dating to the Liangzhu Culture found in Kunshan, Suzhou
The Zhumu mound is located in the south of Jiangxiang village, Suzhou, and is about 80 meters in east-west direction, about 60 meters in south-north direction, about 3 meters above ground and covers an area of near 5000 square meters. In order to coordinate with infrastructure construction, the Suzhou Institute of Archaeology carried out a salvage excavation at the Zhumu mound from November 6th 2012 to March 30th 2013. At the same time, an archaeological investigation and a salvage excavation were carried out at the Zhumucun site, which is to the west of the mound in the Zhumu village from April of 2013. The excavation result confirmed that the Zhumu mound used to be a man-made constructed altar and a platform cemetery dating to the Liangzhu Culture, and the Zhumucun site to the west of the mound was a settlement site dating to the simultaneous period.
The upper part of the earth mound and its surroundings has been destroyed in the earlier time, but a low-lying area was left in north and the original moat could be found in east, south and north.
The trench excavation result confirmed that the earth mound was man-made and could be dated to the Liangzhu Culture. The mound is square with round corners. The area where the earth mound lies was originally a swamp and the purpose of the mound building was moistureproof. The earth mound consists of three overlaid small-scaled earth mounds. The No.1 small earth mound lies to a little west in the middle part of the earth mound. It is a little smaller in scale with about 10 meters diameter. The disclosed part is about 0.5 meters above the ground. No. 2 small earth mound lies in the center of the mound with about 13 meters diameter, having a 0.7 meters relative height. The No. 3 small earth mound lies in the west of the earth mound. There is 5-10 meters distance between each small mound. Moreover, earth was heaped up between each small mound and the heaped earth gradually was increased and enlarged to form a great earth mound. The entire earth mound is 60 meters in east-west direction, 40 meters in south-north and 2-5 meters remained height (the original height was about 7-8 meters). The previous archaeological excavation materials showed that this type of mound had been a cemetery for burying nobles and also an altar for offering sacrifice.
cup with wide handle dating to Liangzhu culture
The Zhumucun site is located about 250 meters to the west of the Zhumu mound. By probing and investigation, the distributed area was roughly confirmed and it reaches to approximately 14 ha area. For better working, we divided the site into the south section (I) and the north section (II).
So far there were 6 square units excavated and over 80 cultural remains including residential places, river courses, ash pits, wells, water ditches, tombs were found. They could be mostly dated to the Liangzhu Culture, and then the East Zhou Dynasty, Han dynasty-six dynasties, and Song dynasty.
unearthed stone arrowhead
There were more than 200 pieces of different types of artifacts excavated from the cultural strata and remains. They could be mostly dated to the Liangzhu Culture, including sand-tempered pottery zun尊vessels with “V” inscribed, black pottery wide-handle cups, black pottery bottles with ears, gray pottery cups with triangles and circles combination pattern, spade-shaped farm stone tools si耜, yuntian耘田器, adzes, chisels, arrowheads, axes, and so on. The artifacts dating to the West Zhou Dynasty include vessels zun with zigzag pattern, pots etc. The artifacts dating to the East Zhou Dynasty include double ears black pottery pots with circles patterns on the shoulder and proto-porcelain.
unearthed pottery cup with black surface
There was a river course whose deposit could be divided into upper and lower layers. The lower layer is the river deposit dating to the Liangzhu Period (River course 2), and the upper layer is the river course deposit dating from the Han Dynasty to six dynasties (River course 1). During the Liangzhu Culture, the river course was the axis and the residential places were distributed on both banks of the river in the village layout. At present, the residential remains were found in the south and north sections. The following is the cultural distribution and deposit information. The south section is about 5 ha and the deposits there were mostly dated to the Liangzhu Culture. The north section is about 9 ha and the deposits could be dated to the Liangzhu Culture and the East Zhou Dynasty, and even Han Dynasty and after six dynasties. In the village, there were quantities of cultural remains related to the human production and life. So far, there have been over 80 cultural remains discovered in the south section. Among them, there are 3 house foundations, 16 ash pits, 8 wells, 2 river ditches, 1 river course and 4 tombs.
unearthed pottery pot with black surface
F3 is micro-scaled house foundation with 2.75 meters in east-west direction, 1.68 meters in south-north direction and a doorway with a 0.45 meter width. There were 12 post holes with 12-20cm diameters and 9-20cm depths.
There were 6 potteries from well J35, including 1 zun vessel, 1 pot, 1 ding鼎tripods, 1bottle, and 2 cups with wide handles. In addition, there were 5 pieces of artifacts unearthed from ash pit H44, including stone chisels, stone knives and wide-handle cup and pottery spinning wheels. J35 was closely related to H44 which lied just above J35 and broken J35. They could be dated to the different phases of the Liangzhu Culture. The zun vessels and wide-handle cups from J35 were all with “V” inscribed which supplied new materials for studying the depict signs in the Liangzhu Culture, and also supplied important clues for studying the origin of the early characters.
unearthed pottery cup stamped with pattern dating to West Zhou dynasty
The four tombs dating to the Liangzhu Culture were located in the residential area, scattering distribution. There were 0-8 grave goods in the tombs and the artifacts assemblage centered ding tripods, dou plate and bottle, but plates, basins and cups were used as grave goods too. These tombs were lower-ranked normal tombs and the higher-ranked tombs should be on the Zhumu mound in the east of the site.
unearthed pottery pot with two ears dating to East Zhou dynasty
Additionally, the east part was the Zhumu mound dating to the Liangzhu Culture, covering an area of about 2400 square meters. The Zhumu mound is the cemetery only for the nobles and normal residents only could be buried surrounding the residential places in the village.
Within 90 square meters area at the Zhumucun site, six pieces of water fields (labled as S1-S6) were discovered and could be dated to the Liangzhu culture. Each water fields covered area from 2 square meters to over 10 square meters. Also in Suzhou, Majiabang water fields were discovered at the Caoxieshan site, the Zhuodunshan site and the Jiangli site. Also the Songze water fields were discovered at the Jiangli site and Chenghu site. These rice fields gathered in Kunshan region. This is a new breakthrough and supplied important materials for studying the rice agriculture development and change from the Majiabang Culture to the Liangzhu Culture. (Translator: Zhai Shaodong)