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Relics testify to Chinese civilization origin
From:Shanghai Daily  |  2020-05-16 04:29

CHINESE archeologists unveiled significant achievements at the Shuanghuaishu site in central China’s Henan Province last week, providing key proof of the origin of the over 5,000-year-long Chinese civilization.

With an area of 1.17 million square meters, the Shuanghuaishu site is located on the south bank of the Yellow River in the township of Heluo, Gongyi City.

The ancient city relic dating back around 5,300 years was proposed by Chinese archeologists to be named “Heluo kingdom” after its location in the center of the Heluo area, where the Yellow River (known as He in ancient China) and the Luohe River meet.

“The Shuanghuaishu site is the highest-standard cluster with the nature of a capital city discovered so far in the Yellow River basin in the middle and late stage of Yangshao Culture, the early stage of the formation of Chinese civilization,” said Li Boqian, a professor at Peking University.

A large number of relics of the Yangshao Culture dating back 5,000 to 7,000 years have been discovered at the site, said Gu Wanfa, director of the Zhengzhou Research Institute of Cultural Relics and Archeology.

“The important archeological findings provide key proof of the origin of Chinese civilization, and also prove the representativeness and influence of the Heluo area in the golden stage of the origin of Chinese civilization around 5,300 years ago,” said Wang Wei, a member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Since 2013, the Zhengzhou Research Institute of Cultural Relics and Archeology and the Institute of Archeology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences have conducted continuous archeological excavations on the site.

According to archeologists, the Shuanghuaishu site was about 1,500 meters long from east to west and 780 meters wide from north to south. It was surrounded by three ring trenches with each found to have external access, forming a strict defense system.

The central residential area with four rows of houses was found in the northern part of the inner ring moat. Meanwhile, three public cemeteries with more than 1,700 tombs, three sacrificial remains, an astronomical relic, a pottery workshop area, a water storage area, a road system and other facilities were also discovered at the city ruins.

“The Shuanghuaishu site was a well selected and scientifically planned settlement site,” said Wang.

“Based on the geographical location and scale, it’s also the only large-scale city settlement discovered so far in the Yellow River basin from the middle and late stage of Yangshao Culture,” Wang added.

Archeologists believe that the Heluo kingdom was the source of many typical characteristics of Chinese civilization.

Silk originated in China and later became one of the country’s major trade items. “The mulberry-growing and silkworm-raising culture was an important component of Chinese civilization,” Li said.

Among the unearthed relics at Shuanghuaishu, a boar tusk carving of a silkworm, 6.4 centimeters long, nearly 1cm wide and 0.1cm thick, is believed to be China’s earliest carving depicting silkworms.

Experts say that the carving depicts a spinning silkworm which is quite similar to modern silkworms in appearance.

“The spinning shape of the carving suggests that ancient Chinese people were familiar with the habits of silkworms,” said Gu.

Along with silk fabrics unearthed at the surrounding Wanggou site and Qingtai site, archeologists said they are solid evidence to prove that the ancient Chinese in the Yellow River basin began raising silkworms and silk production around 5,300 years ago.

“Except Shuanghuaishu and its surrounding settlement sites, there were no definite discoveries from around 5,300 years ago related to the silk textile industry in other parts of the country,” said Li. “In that sense, they are the earliest representatives in the development history of Chinese mulberry cultivation and silkworm-rearing culture.”

Meanwhile, at the astronomical relic at Shuanghuaishu, nine pottery pots were arranged in the pattern of the nine stars of the Big Dipper, which shows that the ancestors of Heluo had relatively mature astronomical knowledge.

“The relic also indicates the worship of the celestial body may have formed a grand sacrificial ceremony for observing the solar terms and praying for a good harvest,” said Gu.

Experts also believe the astronomical relic and the surrounding sacrificial remains constitute a whole, which is consistent with the records of winter solstice sacrifices in ancient Chinese documents. “It is of great significance to the study of early Chinese astronomy and the origin of Chinese civilization,” added Gu.