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HomeSpecial EventsInternational Conference on Prehistoric Rotary Technology and Related Issues
Abstracts of the International Conference on Prehistoric Rotary Technology and Related Issues
From:Chinese Archaeology  Writer:  Date:2013-06-06

 

 

Distortion of Prehistoric Roller Bearings and Bearings during Use

Tang Chung

Department of History / Centre for Chinese Archaeology and Art, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

In both the 1995 and 2006 excavations at HacSa, Macau, we have discovered typical prehistoric roller bearings, which are moving parts between the axle and the turning table. The axle, the turning table, the horizontally rotating bearing, and the lubricant together form extremely advanced jade producing prehistoric machinery. A bearing’s appearance goes through relatively large distortion during use. The use wear on prehistoric roller bearings is fairly apparent, and observations suggest that their breakage isn't caused mainly by friction. The main reason for breakage in bearings may be due to internal fatigue over long term use, which would have led to the need for replacing damaged bearings.

 

 

Recent Developments in the Investigation of the Origin of Chinese Civilization

Wang Wei

The Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

To investigate the origin, formation and development of the Chinese civilization, we must pay attention to both their cultural (material and spiritual) and social aspects, and conduct multi-faceted research. Furthermore, we must not only study the formation processes of the Chinese civilization, but also study the background, reasons, motivations and structures that cause these processes, in order to characterize its development. To this end, we must mobilize all the related disciplines to participate in our investigations.


Application of Rotary Technology inHongshan CultureJades

GuoDashun, Sun Li

Liaoning Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology / Liaoning Provincial Museum

Rotary technology is a key means of production of Hongshan jades. It is mainly used during drilling and forming of the objects. The extent of its technological maturity is evident in the use of large diameter non-manual tubular drilling and arc-shaped slicing techniques, abundant production of bracelets with large inner diameters, and the prevalence of linked holes on thinly sliced jades. There are also evidences of rotary technology being used to craft motifs on significant Hongshan jades. The limited use of rotary technology and the opposite-side drilling on thinly sliced jades may be related to the systemization of jade artisanship at the time.

 

 

A Paleolithic Bracelet from Denisova Cave

A.P. Derevianko, M.V. Shunkov, and P.V. Volkov

Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences

       The collection of personal adornments and artifacts suggestive of symbolic behavior from the Early Upper Paleolithic deposits of Denisova Cave, Altai, is one of the earliest and the most representative of the Upper Paleolithic assemblages from Northern and Central Asia. Especially important is a fragment of a bracelet of dark-green chloritolite, found near the entrance to the eastern gallery of the cave in the upper part of stratum 11. The estimated age of the associated deposits is CA 30 thousand years. According to use-wear and technological analysis, techniques applied for manufacturing the specimen included grinding on various abrasives, polishing with skin, and technologies that are unique for the Paleolithic ― high-speed drilling and rasping. The high technological level evidences developed manual skills and advanced practices of the Upper Paleolithic cave dwellers.

 

 

Jade Implements in the Finds of Russian Archeologists (During the period of 2000s – 2010s)

Sergey A. Komissarov

Institute of Archaeology and Ethnography, Siberian Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences

Novosibirsk State University

All finds of jade implements excavated by Russian archaeologists within the last 20 years can be divided into three groups. The first one is connected with ancient burial graveyards of Cis-Baikal region. Green nephrite was used for manufacturing of working tools such as axes, adzes, knives presented in Neolithic burials of Serovo Culture and Bronze Age burials of Glazkovo Culture. The second group of finds was unearthed in the Bronze Age graveyards of Middle-Volga region. The third group is presented by jade plates excavated at Xiong-nu tombs of NoinUla (Mongolia), including the recent finds from kurgans No. 11, 31. Detailed study of these materials allows us to define more exactly the directions and extent of cross-cultural contacts in the region from Neolithic to the Early Iron Age.

 

 

Rotary Devices during the Bronze Age at the Aegean World: Potter's Wheels and Stone Drilling Devices

HarisProcopiou

The Rene Ginouves Institute for Archaeology and Anthropology, Pantheon-Sorbonne University

The potter's wheel is introduced at the prehistoric Aegean during two distinct stages: at the end of the Early Bronze Age (c. 2500-2000 BC) and the beginning of the Middle Bronze Age (c. 1900 BC). This innovation is certainly inspired by connections with the Near East and Egypt, where the wheel was already in use. Recent studies show that the adoption of the potter's wheel did not lead directly to the wheel-thrown technique, but was followed, as in the Near-East, by an intermediate stage of wheel-fashioning.

Concerning stone vase manufacture, Cretan craftsmen were highly creative during the palatial period. Our studies, based on experimental and use wear analysis, showed that Cretan craftsmen used wooden drill bits (rods and eight-shaped borers), tools which were transmitted to Egypt at the beginning of the Late Bronze Age (c. 1600). Transfers of wheel fashioning and stone drilling technologies imply direct contacts between craftsmen of the Eastern Mediterranean.

 

 

Pottery Production with Rotary Machinery in Ancient China

 Li Wenjie

National Museum of China

This paper discusses existing archaeological data and comments on ancient Chinese pottery produced by rotary machinery. Rotary machinery originates in anvil-padded ceramic production, while the use of the slow wheel appeared afterwards, and fast wheel pottery production came last. The fast wheel device was the most advanced production tool in the Neolithic and Bronze Ages. The emergence of fast wheel pottery production is thus one of the indicators of the social productivity at the time.

 

 

Comparative Study of HaidaiLongshan Culture Pottery Molding Technology and Modern Fast Wheel Throwing

Luan Fengshi

The School of History and Culture, Shandong University

In the history of Neolithic pottery production, molding technology went through two major stages of development: The hand molding stage, and the wheel molding stage. The wheel can be further categorized into the using of the slow and fast wheels.

In the late Neolithic Longshan period, most regions were utilizing fast wheels to mold pottery, especially in the HaidaiLongshan Culture along the lower reaches of the HuangHuaiRiver. HaidaiLongshan pottery production is a multi-staged process that includes selecting and processing the clay, producing the pottery mold/blank, reforming, patterning, drying and firing. The central technologies are the fast wheel and black pottery firing.

The HaidaiLongshan Culture commonly adopted the fast wheel throwing molding technology. Ethnographic information from modern potters allows us to study and reconstruct the general pottery molding technology of the Longshan Culture time period. We were able to find evidence of fast wheel molding and reforming in Longshan vessels, such as deep jars (), cups, ding (), ring-footed bowls (圈足盘) and gui ().

 

 

Origins and Early Applications of Rotary and Related Mechanical Devices in China

Feng Lisheng

Institute of Science, Technology and Society, TsinghuaUniversity

An axle combines the shaft with a rotating wheel. A typical axle device, such as windlasses and winches, is a type of laborsaving leverage machinery, which had appeared as early as during the pre-Qin period. From a mechanical perspective, the potter’s wheel and pulleys are similar in structure to the axle and can be regarded as early predecessors. Such potter’s wheels and pulleys were rather early inventions in China and were already used during the Neolithic. A similar rotary device may have been used for jade processing during the Neolithic as well. In the Shang-Zhou period, axle type machineries that are perceived to be more complex, such as cars, were already very common. By the Han-Qin period, China was applying more diverse and advanced axle type machinery. This paper intends to review the application of axle type machinery in early China, through analyzing related literature and archaeological finds. It will also address questions regarding the origins of axle machinery.

 

 

Xinglongwa Culture Slit Rings and Rotary Motion Processing

Liu Guoxiang

The Institute of Archaeology, ChineseAcademy of Social Sciences

The earliest true (nephrite) jade rings in China were discovered in the Xinglongwa Culture. They are representative of the earliest slit rings in East Asia as well. A pair of slit rings that was discovered from No. 135 Tomb of Xinglongwa site is the earliest example of jades in China to have sought after a perfectly circular form. Both slit rings have diameters of 6cm, and inner rings that are basically fully equidistant from the center to the circumference. These ring type jades have inner and outer rings that are almost perfect circles, and rotary machinery was used in their production process, which has significant implications. 

 

 

Majiayao Culture Type Stone Tool Processing Technology of the Dongxiang Linjia Site in Gansu Province

Wang Hui

Gansu Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archeology

Linjia site, which is located in Dongxiang County of Gansu Province, China, is one of the few formally excavated Majiayao Culture type site. This site has yielded a large number of pottery and stone tools, and the variety of meticulously processed stone tools has particularly great significance for the study of lithic production processes of its time period. The stone products and stone tools found at this site reflect the full production sequence: From choosing the raw material, slicing, making the blank, pecking the mold, drilling, to polishing. This paper will discuss these production processes and investigate the use of related production tools.

 

 

Shang and Zhou period jade tubular drilling techniques in the Sichuan Basin

Lv Hongliang

Department ofArchaeology, Sichuan University

Existing archaeological evidence suggests that jades spread into the SichuanBasin approximately 3,5000BP, which is the same time period as the emergence of the tubular drilling technique that is a topic of discussion at this conference. This paper attempts to reconstruct the drilling technology used during the Sanxingdui Culture and Shierqiao Culture periods in the SichuanBasin, by analyzing the use wears and statistical measurements of their jades. T-shaped rings, cong, rings and tubular beads from the famous Sanxingdui and Jinsha sites will be discussed. On one hand, we can rely on drill marks commonly seen along the drilled inner walls to reconstruct the tubular drilling method. On another hand, we can study the distribution of bamboo-type resources in Sichuan and the relationship between the diameters of the bamboo and the holes of the artifacts. Of course, to conduct a comprehensive research of jades in this region is still very difficult. Even though Jinshan and Sanxingdui have found large amounts of jades, with products, raw materials of semi-products and production wear on the jades, it is very rare to find production tools for jades at the two sites. We have neither found jade workshop related sites nor found the rotary machinery and tools that are the topic of discussion at this conference. However, our observations of sophisticated, continuous and high-speed drilling techniques on the artifacts, such as the T-shaped ring, suggest that we must further investigate how rotary motion is attained in its production process.

 

 

Neither "Ritual Jade" Nor "Confucianism" - On Jade Culture's Contribution to Chinese Civilization

Wang Yongji

Xinghua News Agency

The contribution of the ancient “ritual jade” system in forming the Confucius “ritual system”; the contribution of soft, moist and dense jade textures to the formation of “jade virtues”; the contribution of ancient peoples creating the “jade dragon” from the shape of planetary lightning, praying for rain, to the formation and development of a culture of dragons.

 

 

SEM Analysis of Stone Bearings Used during Prehistoric Jade Production

Ye Xiaohong

The Institute of Archaeology, ChineseAcademy of Social Sciences

This paper investigates the tubular drilling techniques used on prehistoric jades through surface microwear SEM observations and analyses of the stone bearings, rings and discs found in the ring and slit ring workshops at HacSa site in Macau, and Baojingwan site in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province, China. For tubular drilling, the stone bearing may have rotated or not rotated. Microwear SEM observations and measurements prove that the microwear seen on the upper ends of the stone bearings (and the lower ends of rotating types), the inner walls of the rings, and the outer walls of the discs, was made by friction during rotation. The rotational friction on the upper end of a rotating type stone bearing is clearly greater than that on its lower end, which suggests that, in tubular drilling techniques, the main rotational force comes from the rotating plate on the upper end of the stone bearing.

 

 

Prehistoric Rotary Stone Tools of Beifudi Site in Yi County of Hebei Province

Duan Hongzhen

Henan Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology

The prehistoric Beifudi site dates to 8,000-5,000 years ago. Its excavated artifacts include pottery, stone tools and jades. Among these, there is a spindle-shaped stone tool that may have been used as the bearing of rotary machinery. The jade slit rings, stone rings and stone bi () were likely produced by this type of rotary technology involving the stone bearing. Additionally, the s, , tone discs and grooved grind stones found at the site are also likely important evidences for our hypothesis.


 

Liangzhu Culture Jade Perforation and Drilling Technologies

Huang Jianqiu

Department of History, Nanjing University

The perforation of Liangzhu jades can be categorized into four groups by their plane forms, three groups by their perforation diameters, four groups by their perforated profile, into single-sided drilling and double-sided drilling by their drilling methods, and into solid drilling and tubular drilling by the drilling technologies used. Each type of perforation and drilling techniques has some relevance to each other. For the Liangzhu solid drilling technique, there is direct evidence of stone drills, and indirect evidence of drilled use wear. For the Liangzhu tubular drilling technique, however, we have only found indirect evidence of drilled use wear. Latest research results suggest that the rotary bearing-resembling stone tools that were found at Xindili site may provide clues to understanding the tubular drilling technique used in the Liangzhu Culture.

 

 

Liangzhu Wooden Objects and Their Processing Using Rotary Machinery

Zhao Ye

Zhejiang Provincial Institute of Archaeology and Cultural Relics

Though the Liangzhu Culture is mainly famous for its jade pecking technology, its lacquered wooden objects are very mature as well. We have so far discovered that the lacquer gu () vessels, tops (陀螺) and wooden handles are some wooden devices that have obvious traces to suggest that rotary machinery was used during production. This phenomenon also supports the argument that rotary technology was available at the time for use in jade technology as well. 

 

 

Investigation of the Ring and Slit Ring Drilling Techniques Used in the Qijia Slit Ring Production Workshop in Shanxi Province

Sun Zhouyong

Shaanxi Institute of Archaeology

Technology has been considered an important element of production systems for a long time. Technical complexity has often been used as an indicator for a society’s complexity and its production management. This study analyzes the archaeological data from the Qijia slit ring production workshop found in the central area of Zhouyuan site in Shanxi Province, China. We aim to introduce tools and products that are related to stone rings and slit rings. By analyzing the microwear left on the products and semi-products, we will also infer or recreate the Western Zhou ring and slit ring drilling technique, the drill tools and their assembling methods, the raw materials of the drill tools, and the drilling machinery. Preliminary investigations suggest that a manual drill (for solid drilling) and potentially a simple mechanical composite drilling tool may had been used to produce rings and slit rings at the Qijia workshop. We have not found any evidence in Qijia to suggest, however, the use of the earliest known Neolithic drilling technique.

 

 

Rings, Slit Rings and ‘Bearing’-shaped Tools in the Lingjiatan Culture

Wu Weihong

Anhui Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology

Jade rings and slit rings are some major types of jades found at Lingjiatan. There are over 300 samples of jade rings and slit rings, among which some are similar in shape and size. Both types have preserved rather abundant production wear, which allows us to understand their production craftsmanship and processes. Excavated intact stone drills (also called “bearing”-shaped tools) are particularly significant in studying the production of jades at the site. This paper will investigate the production technology and burial characteristics of three types of objects and attempt to summarize the production and consumption frameworks of Lingjiatan jade rings and slit rings.

 

 

Research on the Jade Production Technology of Prehistoric China

Liu Bing

Zhejiang Provincial Institute of Archaeology and Cultural Relics

The jade culture in prehistoric China saw changes over several thousand years in its material use, technology and social significance, maturing and growing in variety, such that it has become an important study subject of Chinese ancient civilization. The development in jade technology concerns not only processing technologies and impact of tools used, but also planning and improving of the production procedure, which directly affects the production efficiency as well. In the first half of the Neolithic Age, jades were mainly made out of sliced blanks; while in the second half, jades were made out of columnar blanks.


Production of Rings and Slit Rings at Fangjiazhou Neolithic Site, Tonglu

Fang Xiangming

Zhejiang Provincial Institute of Archaeology and Cultural Relics

Fangjiazhou site is located on a rectangular mound near the Fenshui Jiang in PanlianCun, Yaolin of Tonglu County in Zhejiang Province, China. It is a production site of jades from the early Songze Culture. A large number of related artifacts and remains were excavated at the site from 2010 to 2012. Adzes are the main stone tools produced, while rings, slit rings, jade tubes and jade huangare some jades produced at the site. There is a full set of evidences for the production sequence as well. Among which, the rings and slit rings are formed by pecking at quartz flakes, while a small number are formed by drilling. The holes are then drilled and the slits sliced. The site also unearthed more than 40 pieces of objects that were once named “stone bearing machinery” of various shapes. The function of these stone tools must be further studied, as they have a very close relationship with the production of rings and slit rings.

 

 

Discovery of Qu Bing Technology in Taiwan and Its Significance

Tang Chung, Chen Chung-yu

The Chinese University of Hong Kong / Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica

Among the currently known East Asian ring and slit ring production systems, many qualities of the “Qu Bing technology” originate in continental Southeast Asia. However, the tubular drilling technology used on long cylindrical blanks that produce the over ten centimeters long jade tubes and jade discs at Qu Bing is undoubtedly unseen in any other parts of East Asia. It may be a unique jade culture in the Taiwan region. The extremely accurate tubular drilling of such large blanks at Qu Bing suggests that it is a product of a very advanced rotary technology that can attain true rotary motion.

 

 

Prehistoric Rotary Machinery and Jade Production in Taiwan

Kuo Su-chiu

Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica

This is a preliminary investigation of Taiwan’s stone bearings and their possible relationships to jade production. In 2007, the author discovered such rotary machinery at Kenting site on the southern edge of Taiwan. It is known that the earliest known rotary bearing in Taiwan was approximately 4,000 years ago, in the middle Neolithic, which was also the time when rotary technology started to be used during ring production. Evidences have been found on rings, slit rings, jade cores, stone cores and shell cores. The stone bearings are rarely found, but they are found in a wide area across Taiwan. It is noteworthy that the typology and use wear of the bearings found in Taiwan share characteristics with those found in numerous sites within the Pearl River Delta. Their ages are close as well, suggesting a need for further investigation on the prehistoric relationship between the two regions.

 

 

Archaeological Evidence for the Application of Rotary Technology in Metalworking in Pre-Qin China  

Jianjun Mei

Institute of Historical Metallurgy and Materials,University of Science and Technology Beijing

The Needham Research Institute, University of Cambridge, UK (Designate)

There has been increasing archaeological evidence in recent years that rotary technology was widely used in the working of stone and jade in prehistoric China. Is there any evidence for the application of rotary technology in metalworking during the pre-Qin period in China? The positive answer to this question is given by some bronze finds from the Sanxingdui site in Guanghan, Sichuan and from the Hanzhong region in Shaanxi. On the basis of previous observations and research results, this paper aims to trace and present relevant archaeological evidence for illustrating the application of rotary technology in metalworking and its characteristics in pre-Qin China.

 

 

North-south Systems of Hamin Jade Drilling, Inner Mongolia

Ji Ping, Tang Chung

Inner Mongolia Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology / The Chinese University of Hong Kong

In 2012, Hamin conducted its third excavation, unearthing a total area of 1,700m2, 11 house sites, 6 tombs, and more than 40 nephrite jades. Jades found at the site were excavated on the necks, torso or waists of the human remains or in their immediate vicinity within the dwelling remains. Some jade types that the people of the time had worn were bi (), double bi, cloud-like plaques, nephrite raw materials, and bi-shaped objects (匕形器). Hamin’s jades suggest that jades can be clearly categorized into two systems by their typology, production technology and raw material source. The northern system comprises of Baikal-Jilin type jades, and the southern system comprises of Xiuyan type Hongshan jades. The drilling technologies in the northern and southern systems are different as well, and the southern system uses rotary machinery with bearings to attain true rotary motion.

 

 

Investigating the Function of the Ring Polish Stones Unearthed at Baojingwan Prehistoric Site in Zhuhai

Guan Xiaowu

The Institute for the History of Natural Sciences, ChineseAcademy of Sciences

18 ring whetstones were excavated at the prehistoric site at Baojingwan, Zhuhai. Academia has three main opinions of such objects: 1) that they are drill heads used to drill jades, 2) that they are grindstones used to polish the inner rings of jades, and 3) that they are stone bearings in the rotary machinery that was used to drill jades. This paper is an attempt at analyzing the function of the polish stones unearthed at Baojingwan through observations of their typological characteristics and surface rotational wear.

 

 
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