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30 January 2005
Neolithic village found in China

The Ningbo Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology announced that, after a 4-month excavation of 725 square meters, they have confirmed the discovery of a 7,000-year-old village of the early Hemudu culture. The site is at Fujiashan in the Jiangbei District of Ningbo City, in the eastern province of Zhejiang (China).
     According to a specialist from the institute, the site is one of the largest-scale, highest-yield and best-preserved sites in the province after the Hemudu site itself. The relics excavated showed it to be a Neolithic site in the early stage of Hemudu culture, which involved cultivation, fishing, hunting and gathering.
     Chu Xiaobo, the institute's deputy head, said the Fujiashan site is 20 kilometers from the Hemudu site and 5-6 kilometers from the recently discovered Tianluoshan site, which belongs to the same culture. The position of the three sites indicates that the Yaojiang River may have been the home of the Hemudu culture. The Fujiashan site was wood-based, facing east and with Fujia Mountain to its west. It's more than 30 meters wide and 16 meters deep. Wares have been found that were constructed using slots and pairs of tenons - the first time these have been found in the Hemudu culture.
     Archeologists said the inhabitants built houses and settled down as their lifestyle shifted from hunting animals to planting vegetables, raising livestock and making handicrafts. They found many fragments of charcoal, connected with the marks made by fire on the top and surface of crossbeams, suggesting that it may have been fire that destroyed the village eventually.
     Wu Xiangdong, the head of the institute, said they had unearthed a large number of relics. The most numerous were earthenware - recoverable items totaled more than 470 - and some were first examples in Hemudu culture, as were the patterns engraved onto them. Among the relics, the most delicate and vivid was an eagle-head-shaped piece of ivory, chiseled on both front and back. The eagle's beak is hook-shaped and its eyes wide open, giving it a fierce and powerful countenance. Another eagle-shaped earthenware item was also recovered, in the form of a bird spreading its wings, and was another first time discovery for this period. Another interesting find was a pot full of cooked water chestnuts. The archaeologists speculated that it might have been abandoned after a sudden disaster, such as a flood, fire, or an attack from wild animals or enemies.

Source: People's Daily Online (26 January 2005)

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