High Class Noble Tombs of Spring and Autumn Period Discovered in Shijia Cemetery, Gansu Province
Gansu Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology conducted salvage excavation for Shijia Cemetery in Xitou Village, Zaosheng Town, Ning County, Gansu Province during 2017. 6 tombs of Eastern Zhou Period were excavated, five of them were in large scale and another one was in middle scale. With the discovery of a diverse assemblage, the artifacts of Western Zhou Period account for a large proportion, as well as a few belonged to Neolithic period of Yangshao Culture, lower Changshan culture and Siwa Culture.
The location of Shijia Cemetery
The tombs were all earthen shaft pit tombs with second-tier platform on the bottom. Some tombs were painted with light green color on the walls around in place of the wooden outer coffin, which was quite special. The identified postures were one lying on back with straight limbs, and one lying on side with flexed limbs.
Lots of animal bones were found in the filled earth of some tombs with no distributing characteristics, which mainly were leg bones and jaw bones, etc, belonging to horse and dog with preliminary identification, together with circular stone bi disk, arc-shaped stone pieces huang pendant and pie-shaped stone pendant, suggesting that it was related to ritual activities. This ritual activity at the cemetery was regarding as the breakdown of patriarchal clan system during Spring and Autumn Period, and “The Collapse of the Ritual System of Zhou Dynasty” was a reflection of social revolution.
Burial chariot above the outer coffin of tomb M40
The burial objects combinations were mainly bronze wares, chariots and harnesses, coffin decorations and tomb owner’s accessory. The two un-looted tombs were buried with seven bronze tripod Ding. Tomb M216 buried with mini bronze wares, including food containers, wine and water vessels, etc. The bronze wares were rough with multi-ring pattern, dragon pattern and string pattern, etc, and some were with no pattern. The bronze wares in Tomb M218 were placed in south part of the chamber, which was the only one among the excavated tombs.
Burial objects at the northern chamber of tomb M216
Jade ornaments at the northern chamber of tomb M216
The wooden frame above coffin plate was considered as “coffin cover”; the fabrics remain above the coffin plate—“pall”; the fabrics remain around the coffin—“red pall (Zhu)”.
Full view of Tomb M218
The characteristic of the unearthed items were obvious, such as the belly of the bronze Ding tripod changed from deep to shallow, the bottom from round to flat; bronze dagger-axes with straight handle and Gui-shaped blade; chariots and harnesses—WEI, tube shaped decoration; The popular patterns were stripe, multi overlapping rings, etc. Jade artifacts including ear ornaments jue ring, claw-shaped xi, ring, dagger, gui-tablets etc..
Bronze tripod-ding unearthed from tomb M218
Tiger Tally (Chinese Hufu two-piece tiger-shaped 'tally' used as a representation of authority or identification）
Shijia Cemetery was the first high class noble tombs discovered in Qingyang Area. Its location connected North Prairie Culture and Central Plain Culture with complicated culture, multi elements co-exist. The discovery of the tombs provided archaeological materials for cultural transmission, national fusion and interaction. (Translator: Lang Langtian Photograph:Archaeology Press IA CASS)