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Archaeo News 

10 April 2004
Neolithic findings at the Yingpanshan Ruins site

After four years of painstaking work in the Maoxian County (SW China), the researchers have brought to light more findings pertaining to the Neolithic than in any previous excavation in the upper reaches of the Minjiang River. The relics unearthed so far offer abundant clues to archeologists to help them piece together the lives of the prehistoric settlers in the area.
     The researchers have named the site the Yingpanshan Ruins. About 150,000 square meters in size, the site cover the largest piece of fertile, flat land in the upper reaches of the Minjiang. The 10,000 pieces of pottery, jade, stone, bone and mussel-shell objects unearthed at the site have led the researchers to believe that the prehistoric people represent an advanced stage of Neolithic culture there. The tools made of stone, pottery and bone, the colored pottery kettles, and the bottles, cups and bowls indicate a high level of workmanship.
     The archaeologists unearthed four pottery kiln sites, the oldest and largest pottery kilns found so far in the upper reaches of the Yangtze. They also found caves that were used for storing grain. The ancient people apparently also hunted - as they left a large number of stone balls and arrows made of stone and bone at the site - and they fished too, as stone weights used on fishing nets were also unearthed.
     Stones found in some of the ash pits had been painted with cinnabar, a red, mercury-based powder."It is the earliest discovered use of cinnabar in the country," said one of the archaeologists working at the site. Red paint was found inside a pottery container, as well, and that could be an indication that the inhabitants of the Yingpanshan Ruins considered red a sacred color.
     The researchers are especially delighted with the many colored pottery objects they have found, the largest number of colored pottery objects found so far in any single site in Sichuan. The pottery bear intricate designs of animals and plants and geometric figures.
     At the center of the site, archeologists found remains of what they believe to be a square about 200 square meters in size. Under it, they discovered four pits containing remains of people who had probably been buried alive. It must have been the site where the ancient inhabitants held major communal and ritual activities. They appear to have had a brutal custom of killing or burying prisoners of war and slaves alive in sacrificial ceremonies.
     The archeologists have unearthed nine places where they believe the ancient people built their houses. Near the house foundations at the center of the ruins are another four burial sites.
     Extending their explorations in the area, the archaeologists discovered other sites that provide additional materials to help fill in the gaps in local prehistory: near the Yingpanshan Ruins, 6,000-year-old Boxi Ruins and 4,500-year-old Shawudu Ruins have been located.

Source: China Daily (2 April 2004)

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