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HomeNewsNew discoveries
Discovery of 800-years-ago salt production remains in Zhejiang province
From:Chinese Archaeology  Writer:  Date:2014-05-06
 
The Jiumuqiu site is situated at Fengmen village, Dongtou County, Zhejiang Province. In 2014, salvage excavation was conducted and covered an area of 300 square meters among which salt production remains are vital important. At this salt production remains, features including salt stoves, brine pits, dwelling structures and water management constructions were recovered along with wealth pottery for producing salt.


aerial view of the Jiumuqiu site
 
The Jiumuqiu site is an important ancient salt production site whose chronological sequences could be divided into two phases. During its early phase Jiumuqiu is thought to be a local production unit. The salt stoves are round or oval in the plane with their diameters varying from 1.5m to 2m, depths from 0.3m to 0.5m. Firebox opening is at the lower position with ash remaining inside. Next to the stoves is a brine pit whose diameter is about 2m. The bottom of the pit is round-cut and lined with 10cm-deep clay. A 100 square meters area of potash deposition was found at the west of the salt production unit. Regarding its smooth surface and even thickness such deposition might have been a field for evaporating brine water which is called ‘Tanchang’. Next to the ‘Tanchang’ there is a shallow pool which is very likely to be used for storing brine water. There is a canal connecting the pool and the sea bay, enabling saline stream to go through into the pool at high tides. Recovered artifacts are largely ceramic tools associated with salt making such as pottery sticks and cake-shaped ones.


stove remains in early phase


stove remains in later phase
 
During the later phase, the salt production site was located atop a sand dune. The site was larger in scale compared with its previous phase. However, some parts of the site have been damaged because of dredging. Both salt stoves and brine pits were found. A much complex structure was emerging among the salt stoves in the later phase. The front part of the stove hole, surrounded by large stones, is round-shaped and its diameter is 5.5m. An inner circle constructed by smaller stones was built to hold boiling vessels as well as to separate the firebox into two chambers. Its diameter is 3.5m. The firebox presents an oval plane with a deepened bottom at the centre. Seen in profile, the bottom is covered with fired clay ranging from 0.6-0.7m in depth, upon which is a layer of potash. The fired clay deposited outside the smaller stone circle is also visible in multi-layers, probably suggesting repeated use in a long time period. The inner and outer fire chambers are linked by a fire tunnel located underneath the smaller circle. It is likely that the central chamber is the main chamber for use, considering that a grate is placed upon it. There are also changings among salt production tools. In addition to pottery sticks and cake-shaped ones, block-shaped tools sometimes with curved surfaces were also found in a considerable number. 


brine pit in later phase
  
Two house structures were excavated to the east of the sand dune near the hill foot. The ground surface was constructed by clay mixed with pebbles where traces of stonewalls retains. A pebble path stretches out from its front. There are possibilities that these structures were used as working huts while dwelling structures were located at the east of the hill foot. Clusters of piles over 20m in length and discovery of celadon pieces in the eastern area are evident to confirm house function.




ceramic tools associated with salt making 
 
According to the chronology demonstrated by the coins excavated from the site, the Jiumutian site could be traced back to the Song and Yuan Dynasties. To be more accurate, the early phase is as early as the beginning of Southern Song Dynasty while the later phase roughly ranges from the end of the Southern Song Dynasty towards the beginning of the Yuan Dynasty. The Jiumuqiu site is the first archaeological discovery of salt making workshop in southeast coastal region so far, thus providing rich information about salt production, handicraft industry and trade economy during the Song and Yuan Dynasties.
  (Translator: Dong Ningning)


 
 
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