China Archaeology

By | January 8, 2022

Great impetus has been given in China, in recent years, to archaeological research. After the end of the cultural revolution, which had marked a pause not in the excavation campaigns but in the publication of scientific studies and reports, in 1972 magazines entirely dedicated to archeology reappeared, such as Kao – ku (“Archeology”), Wen – wu (“Cultural Materials”) and Kao – ku hsüeh – pao (“Acta Archaeologica Sinica”). Recently, large exhibitions on the results of excavations in China have been organized in Paris (1973), London (1973-74), Vienna (1974) and Tokyo (1973).

Between 1963 and 1964 in Lan-t’ien (province of Shensi) fragments of the skull and lower jaw of the sinanthropus were found, together with stone objects worked in a very rudimentary way; according to Chinese archaeologists, “the man of Lan-t’ien” would precede the appearance of sinanthropus pekinensis, dating back to about 600,000 years ago.

For the Neolithic period, the Ch’ing-lien-kang culture, characterized by painted pottery and polished stone tools, was discovered along the lower reaches of the Yangtse River and that of the Huai River. New finds were exhumed, relating to the Neolithic cultures of Yang-shao and Lung-shan. Excavations continued and the study of the materials discovered in Erh-li-kang (province of Honan), datable to the second dynasty (Shang, 1600-1027 BC) which saw the beginning of the Bronze Age in China. Other excavations carried out in the provinces of Shanhsi, Anhuei and Hunan have shown the extension of the political-cultural dominion of the Shang.

According to RECIPESINTHEBOX.COM, the Bronze Age continues with the third dynasty (Chou, 1027-221 BC) and numerous ritual vessels have been discovered, some of which have long inscriptions; during the central part of the dynasty, in the period that takes the name of “Springs and Autumns” (770-475 BC), a large number of bronzes appear, almost all dated, and new forms of vases are born which will continue in the following epochs.

The use of iron dates back to China at the end of the Chou period, at the age of the so-called Warring Kingdoms (475-221 BC); it was mainly used for agriculture. In 1960 in Hou-ma (Shansi province) terracotta molds were found in the remains of a bronze foundry of the time. The technique of gold and silver encrustations is contemporary, as evidenced by some finds from the age of the Warring Kingdoms. Between 1965 and 1966 excavations carried out in some tombs in Chiang-ling (province of Hupei) have brought to light more than 900 bronzes, lacquers and jades.

A sensational discovery took place in 1974 near the large burial mound of Emperor Shih Huang-ti of the Ch’in dynasty (259-210 BC); An underground deposit was found crammed with terracotta figures of men and horses, many of them life-size. The area of ​​the deposit is 12,600 m 2 and so far only about 1000 m 2 have been excavated, bringing to light 314 warrior figures and 24 horses.

Another discovery, which aroused much interest, was that which took place in the Hopei province in Man-ch’eng (see man – ch ‘ eng, in this App.), which brought to light the two famous jade dresses sewn with gold threads, an absolutely new fact in Chinese funeral customs. Also for the period of the Han dynasty (221 BC – 220 AD), a large tomb, full of a large number of bronze figurines, was discovered in Wu-wei (province of Kansu) in 1969. depicting war chariots, horses, warriors and servants, arranged as in a procession. The same processions appear in pictorial murals or in contemporary sculpted stones. Gilded bronzes or with gold or silver encrustations, also from the Han period, have been found in various locations, testifying to the high level of noble craftsmanship.

The Six Dynasties period (220-580 AD) is characterized by the development of the céladon technique, many examples of which have been found in recent years. But equally important were the discoveries along the so-called silk road: fragments of wool and silk fabrics, datable between the Han and the T’ang (3rd century BC-9th century AD), visible evidence of the trades that took place continue between China and Western Asia. Coins, manuscripts in Chinese and Central Asian languages ​​have been found in Turfan.

With the T’ang dynasty (618-907 AD) the China goes through an age of political-cultural splendor. Excavations conducted in 1970 in a district of the ancient capital Ch’ang-an, near the present city of Si-an, uncovered a treasure enclosed in two large earthenware jars. Among the more than a thousand objects contained therein, there are 216 pieces of goldsmith’s art, as well as jades, precious stones and various jewelery. It is likely that this treasure was hidden during the famous An Lu-shan revolt (756 AD).

Numerous pieces of the well-known Yüeh pottery, dating from the Five Dynasties period (907-960 AD), were discovered in 1969 in Chechiang province. With the Sung (960-1279) Chinese porcelain perfected and diversified its techniques. Many examples of the so-called Ting porcelain have been found in the foundations of two pagodas in Ting-hsien (province of Hopei); it is a white porcelain which, at times, has engraved floral motifs.

Excavations continued, conducted by the Institute of Archeology of the Academy of Sciences, to find the remains of Ta-tu, the ancient Mongolian capital, which the Ming will enlarge and call Beijing. After 1969 it was possible to better establish the structure and layout of the city walls. The barbican that defended one of the city gates (the Ho – i men) and the foundations of numerous residential houses were discovered. Also a number of period porcelains. Mongolians have been unearthed, not only in the capital but also in other Chinese regions.

China Archaeology