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24 July 2003
Ruins of ancient village unearthed in central China

The ruins of a complete ancient village have been discovered on the western edge of Yinxu, an important archaeological site dating back 3,000 years, in the central China province of Henan. Twenty-seven homes, built over several decades around 1200 BCE during the Shang Dynasty (1600–1100 BCE), were unearthed by archaeologists from the Archaeological Research Institute under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) and Henan Provincial Cultural Heritage and Archaeological Research Institute.
     According to Wang Xuerong, an associate research fellow with CASS’s Archaeological Research Institute, “This is the first time that semi-subterranean residences half-built into the ground have ever been found at Yinxu or among ruins from the Xia [2100–1600 BCE], Shang [1600–1100 BCE], and Zhou [1100 BCE–771 BCE] Dynasties.”
     “Although the unearthed rooms are small compared with the foundations of palaces and temples unearthed at Yinxu, they reflect the vivid and colorful lives of ancient common people who lived in areas adjacent to the city proper,” Wang added.
     Since the discovery of the ruins of Yinxu in 1899 in Anyang, the ancient capital of the Shang Dynasty, excavations have revealed many interesting finds, including tombs, foundations of palaces and temples, jade carvings, and oracle bones, which are inscribed animal bones and tortoise shells used for divination by Shang kings and carry the earliest known examples of Chinese characters.
     The newly excavated village is laid out on north–south lines, with the houses spaced for ventilation and all the rooms in the houses connected by “halls” and “living rooms”, as in modern houses. Some of the rooms contain between one and three earthen platforms, which experts believe were used as beds. Judging from the number of beds and rooms, the village’s population is estimated to have been between 100 and 150. Intact cooking ranges have also been found in the village.
     Since April of this year, the team of archaeologists has been excavating an area of 23,000 square metres, which has included 380 tombs dating from the Shang Dynasty to the Song Dynasty (960–1279 AD). Those from the Shang Dynasty were found to contain about 150 bronze weapons, including daggers, spears, swords, axes, and arrowheads.

Source: People’s Daily Online (18 July 2003)

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