Important achievements from excavation of Southeast Area of Dasikong Village of Yinxu in Anyang city
From November 2016 to October 2017, archaeological excavation of Southeast Area of Dasikong Village of Yinxu has been conducted by Anyang Archaeological Team of Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. There are all together 40 units in the excavating area, covering 3800 square meters.
In this season’s area, there are five cultural layers being uncovered with relatively simple stratigraphic relationships. The first layer is disturbed soil. The second layer is cultural deposits from Ming and Qing Dynasties. The third layer is cultural remains from Tang and Song Dynasties. The fourth layer is cultural deposits from Shang Dynasty and the fifth is reddish-brown earth.
Aerial photo of the excavation area
Features from Shang Dynasty include roads, house foundations, ash pits (or storage pits), wells and tombs. Among them, roads and house foundations from Shang Dynasty are the most important achievements of the excavation.
Two roads from Shang Dynasty were found and numbered as L1 and L2, running from southwest to northeast through the whole excavating area. The roads were 3.2m wide. Two wheel ruts were discovered on the road, with a 1.5m distance between them. L2 had similar distribution area and running direction. Both of them were from Shang Dynasty, while L2 might be used at a rather early time. The possibility that these roads were started to use from the period of Huanbei City of Shang Dynasty cannot be ruled out.
12 house foundations from Shang Dynasty were cleared, which were numbered as F1~F12. House remains were mainly distributed on east and west sides of L1 and L2. F7 and F9 were placed on the west side of the road, the rest were on the east side. Among them, F7 had quite large scale with rather good preservation state.
2017ASF7 No.3 clay
F7 was rectangular in plane and south-north oriented. It’s 31.5m long from south to north and no less than 14.3m wide from east to west. On living floor, there were 37 post holes in two rows being placed from south to north. Most of them had foundation stones. 3 groups of drainage pipes were buried in rammed earth of house remains. All were higher in the west end and lower in the east so as to drain off water to the ditch in the east part of the road.
Significantly, west ends of drainage pipes were all ended in the houses, most of which were connected to tanks within house bases, rather than being used to drain off water from courtyard in the west side. With such special drainage facility, it’s safe to say that F7 had quite special function, perhaps it might be a kitchen. According to spatial locations, F7 was east house of “Building Groups in Area C” excavated in 2004, which once again proved existence of “a principle that kitchens were placed in the east” in Shang Dynasty, which was promoted by Professor Du Jinpeng.
F5, F10 and F11 were distributed on the east side of the road. All of them consisted of a group of architectures with a “凹” shaped plane overall, and the opening faced toward the west road.
Ash pit H135
50 tombs have been cleared. Among them, 49 tombs are from Shang Dynasty and one is from Sui Dynasty.
Tombs from Shang Dynasty all belonged to the third and fourth phases of Yinxu period, most of which were from the fourth phase. Relatively rich kinds of burial gifts were uncovered, containing pottery gu
-goblets, pottery jue
-wine vessels with three legs and a loop handle, li
-vessels, jars, dou
-serving vessels with a long stand and plates, a few copper dagger-axes and arrowheads, and small jade artifacts and shells as well.
The tomb from Sui Dynasty is an earthen cave tomb with a slope and rectangular tomb passage. Coffin bed was located in the west side of the tomb chamber. On the bed, there was a wooden coffin, 1.7m long and 0.6m wide. 24 burial gifts were unearthed. Inside the coffin, there was a copper mirror and a lacquer box. In tomb chamber, there were 3 pottery jars, 4 figurines of female official, a warrior figurine, a tomb beast, a pottery horse, a pottery goat, a pottery camel, a pottery pig, a pottery cow, a pottery hen, a pottery cart, a pottery oven as well as a porcelain barn.
230 ash pits and storage pits from Shang Dynasty were cleared, dating back to the second to the fourth phases of Yinxu Period. Pits from the fourth phase took the largest percentage. Rather rich artifacts were discovered from pits, including potteries, bone artifacts, stone artifacts and shell artifacts. Potteries contain li
-vessels, jars, basins, zeng
-steamers, spindle whorls, net wets, pellets and etc. Bone artifacts have ji
-hairpins, needles, awls, oracle bones and raw materials and so on. Stone artifacts include grinding stones and sickles and etc. Shell artifacts range from shells, sickles and knives and so on. Among them, there were 3 ash pits and storage pits with rather special nature.
Ash pit H158
Pit H135 had a round opening in 3.3m diameter. To be noticed, there was a rectangular hollow in the east part of the bottom. And in the middle of the bottom, there was a complete pottery gui-vessel. This storage pit should belong to the third phase of Yinxu period.
In pit H158, there were a few animal bones and pottery shards. Two kneeled human skeletons were found in the bottom of the pit. Each skeleton was accompanying by a pottery li-caldron by the side. A pottery zeng-steamer was covered on the skull of the skeleton. It needs more investigation to find whether this special burial practice was a new ritual practice. And the possibility that this could be a punishment in Shang Dynasty cannot be ruled out. Features like H158 have never been found in the archaeological excavation of Yinxu ruins before.
Ash pit H196
16 skeletons were buried intensively in the bottom of pit H196. From preliminary identification at the scene, there were adults and juveniles. Some skeletons bent over with straight limbs or flexed limbs. Some were lying on their backs with straight or flexed limbs. Others were lying on their sides with flexed limbs. Besides, there were complete skeletons, skeletons without skulls and skeletons only below pelvis residual. Moreover, there were two animal skeletons, which might be a goat and a dog. And there were goat scapulae and a rib of a cow. According to the burial condition in situ, there were no obvious traces of struggling, which predicted that the deceased might be buried intensively after death. Many such concentrated burial features have been discovered from previous excavations of Yinxu ruins. H196 was packed as a whole in a box and moved to Anyang Workstation for further research in future.
Main achievements and academic significance
In 2004, archaeological excavation in Yubeishachang was conducted by Anyang Archaeological Team. “Building Groups in Area C” were the most important discovery of Dasikong Area in Yinxu site. Due to relatively large scale, building groups partially extended to outside of excavation area. F7 and F9 uncovered from this season fill up east part of “Building Groups of Area C”.
L1 and L2 cleared from this season can exactly join east-west running road excavated from Dasikong Village previously, forming crossroads. The road network, the building groups and the other related remains form as a whole, which will provide important materials for research on layout of northern bank area of Huan River of Yinxu site. (Translator: Ma Huanhuan Photograph:China Cultural Relics News)