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Research on the Early Bronze Age Cultures in the Hexi Corridor and Surrounding Areas

Author: ChenXiaoSan
Tutor: WangLiXin
School: Jilin University
Course: Archaeology and Museology
Keywords: Hexi Corridor Early Bronze Age Qijia Culture Siba Culture
CLC: K871.3
Type: PhD thesis
Year: 2012
Downloads: 495
Quote: 1
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Qijia and Siba, two important archaeological cultures of the Early Bronze Agein China, are located in the region of the Hexi corridor in Gansu province. For a longtime, the research on the Qijia culture has been lacking of a precise geographicaldefinition which hinder any further research on this matter. In the Hexi corridor area,Qijia and Siba cultures both mastered metallurgy techniques. On the basis of achronological analysis, we clearly redefine the cultural development of each culture,and analyze the cultural exchanges ongoing with the Xinjiang region in the West,and the central Great Wall area up to the Guanzhong and Central Plains regions tothe East. This study brings to light the routes and influence patterns produced bythese cultural exchanges.This dissertation is divided into six chapters.The first one is an introductive chapter, merely dealing with the definition of thechronological and geographical frame of this study. While reviewing the discoveriesand previous research on Qijia and Siba cultures, we point out a number of existingproblem that need to be solved. The choice of research methods and theoreticalframe is then explained.The second chapter analysis the remains dating from the very end of theNeolithic period-namely the late Longshan period-in the foothills of the GansuLongshan mountains region. The research focuses on the analysis of the remainsdiscovered on the Linqiliang site in Caiyuan, Ningxia province. The combined studyon the stratigraphical data and the artifacts allow us to deduce that the remainsunearthed in Linziliang site can be divided into two types. The first type ischaracterized by basketry-like motives printed on the surface of double-handled guan jars and smooth surface guan jars. These remains can be attributed to thecultural type called―culture of the lower level of Changshan‖in previous research.The second type is defined by the association of cord-marked coarse ware guan jarsand various types of double-handled guan jars. This second type of remains havealso been unearthed on the Yehezi site in Longde, Ningxia province and attributed tothe Qijia culture. Our analysis allow us to reclassify the remains of both the secondtype of Linziliang site’s remains and the Yehezi site remains that had previously beenattributed to the Qijia culture, as a new archaeological cultural type named here―Yehezi cultural type‖, which datation can be assumed to be roughly contemporarywith the period of the culture of the―second phase of Kexingzhuang‖.On the southern region of the western side of the Longshan mountains area, themain archaeological discoveries are the remains of the seventh phase of Shizhaocunsite in Tianshui, the remains of the seventh phase of Xishanping site, and the ones ofthe late phase of the Longshan culture in Fujiamen site in Wushan. The generaldesign of the pottery is similar to the examples of the culture of the second phase ofKexingzhuang, but the proportions of each artifact are very different. These remainscan be brought together in a type called the―Shizhaocun cultural type‖, which ismainly contemporary with the period of the culture of the second phase ofKexingzhuang.In the third chapter, the chronology and the geographical distribution of thecultural subtypes of the Qijia culture are redefined. On the basis of the dataunearthed in the settlements and cemeteries belonging to Qijia culture, we carry on atypological analysis of the artifacts, and establish that the Qijia culture can bedivided into four phases and five stages. The differences in the burial customs andthe pottery vases assemblage show that the Qijia culture feature can be separated intothree geographical variants: the Liuwan type, the Huangniangniangtai type and theMogou type.The Liuwan type is mainly distributed in the Hehuang area, and is characterizeda pottery assemblage and a set of burial customs very similar to the one of Machang culture. Therefore, it is clear that the Liuwan cultural type has directly evolved fromthe Machang culture and that afterwards, it develops into Zongzhai and Huangjiazhaitypes, which will then become two of the bases of the elaboration of the Kayueculture.The Huangniangniangtai type is manly distributed in the area between Wuwei etLanzhou and extended towards the South up to the Linxia region. This type has beenproducted by assimilating traits from the Yehezi type, the Shizhaocun type and–to alesser extend–the culture of the second phase of Kexingzhuang. The laterdevelopment of the Huangniangniangtai cultural type remains yet unclear. Theapparition of the fist type of the Shanjiatou remains must have received influencesfrom the Huangniangniangtai type, but the data are still too scarce to ascertain thetypological evolution of the artifacts.The Mogou type is mainly distributed in the upper course of the Taohe rivervalley. According to the data from the Mogou cemetery that have already beenpublished, the earliest stage of this cultural type is contemporary with the third stageof the Huangniangniangtai type. Therefore, the Mogou type can be seen as adifferentiation by-product of the Huangniangniangtai type. It then evolves to Ye’erremains, which constitute the main source of development of the Siwa culture.In the fourth chapter, the chronology and the geographical distribution of thecultural subtypes of the Siba culture is analyzed. Most of the analysis is supported bythe numerous data of Donghuishan cemetery used in the typo-chronology and thegeographical distribution studies. The chronological analysis shows that the Sibaculture can be divided into four phases and five stages as follow: the first phasecorresponds to the first stage, the second phase to the second stage, the third phase tothe third and fourth stages, and the fourth phase to the fifth stage.The geographical distribution typology is based on the comparison of the burialcustoms and artifacts observed in three cemeteries: Donghuishan, Huoshaogou andGanguya sites, and shows that the Siba culture can be divided into three culturaltypes. In the Donghuishan type, most of the tombs are rounded angle rectangle pit secondary burials. In this cemetery, the differences between social status-poor andrich tombs-are not very apparent. In the Huoshaogou type, there is a highproportion of side cave chamber tombs, the deceased are mostly laying in supineposition and the differences of burial furnishings between the tombs are quite clear.In the Ganguya cemetery, most of the tomb present secondary burials and can berectangular pits or stone mounts tombs, no sacrificial remains have been observed.On the question of the origins of the Siba culture, we argue that thisarchaeological culture was developed on the basis of the Panjiazhuang type. As tothe question of the further evolution of the Siba culture, we propose that it becamefor one part the Shanma culture. At the same time, on the eastern side some potteryvases of the Ye’er type and of the Qijia culture show stylistic features typical of theSiba culture ceramic, which show the influence of the Siba culture on thearchaeological types of the east neighboring region. Besides, in the Hehuang region,after the disappearance of the Qijia culture, the rising Zongzhai and Huangjiazhaicultural types all show secondary burials and pottery vases as burial furnishing: theapparition in the eastern regions of these cultural traits can be attributed to the spreadof the influence of the Siba culture.In the fifth chapter, we carry on the study of the cultural interaction inside thestudy area and with the neighboring regions. Ceramic and bronze artifacts are usedto discuss the Qijia and Siba cultures. According to the typo-chronological analysisof the pottery vases, we redefine the chronological relations of both cultures.Moreover, we demonstrate that the remains of the Panjiazhuang phase of theMachang culture is contemporary with the first stage of the first phasen and thesecond stage of the second phase of the Qijia culture; the first and second phases ofdthe Siba culture are contemporary with the third stage of the third phase of the Qijiaculture; the remains of the third phase of the Siba culture are contemporary with thefourth stage of the third phase of the Qijia culture; the fourth phase of the Sibaculture is contemporary with the fifth stage of the fourth phase of the Qijia culture.Finally, we discuss the cultural exchanges existing between the Hexi corridor area and the Xinjiang in the West, and the eastern regions (namely the south-east regionsof Inner Mongolia, the western area of the Guanzhong region, and the region of theGuanzhong and the Danjiang. Later we analyze the formation and the importance ofthe roads and axes of cultural exchanges discovered in the study of thearchaeological remains. The comparative analysis of the archaeological data allow usto draw circuits of cultural exchanges between the Hexi corridor area, the Xinjiangregion, the central and eastern regions of the Great Wall, the Guanzhong area and theCentral Plains regions. Moreover, we discuss the unimpeded character of the culturalexchanges routes of the Hexi corridor area and we demonstrate the importance of theinfluence the archaeological cultures of this region has had on the Great Wall areaand on the Central Plains region.Finally, the sixth chapter is the conclusion of this essay. After summarizing thediscoveries made though this analysis, it points out remaining questions and furtherresearch orientations.

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CLC: > History, geography > Cultural Relics and Archaeology > China 's Cultural Relics and Archaeology > Generations of Cultural Relics and Archaeology > Bronze Age
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