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People and the environment in the Dongliao River Valley (Northeast China)

par Lemardelé Élise - publié le

Principal investigators : Pauline Sebillaud, CNRS Assistant Researcher, CRCAO UMR 8155, JING Zhongwei, Professor, Research Centre for Chinese Frontier Archaeology of Jilin University

Participants :

Full Members

Pauline Sebillaud, Alain Thote

Associate Members

Joël Suire (CNRS, ArScan Prehistoric Ethnology, UMR 7041), Xavier Peixoto (National Institute of Research in Preventive Archeology), Stéphane Frère (National Research Institute in Preventive Archeology - CNRS, National Museum of Natural History, Archeozoology and Archaeobotany, UMR 7209), Sylvie Coubray (National Research Institute in Preventive Archeology - CNRS, National Museum of Natural History, Archeozoology and Archaeobotany, UMR 7209), Michel Rasse (CNRS, Archéorient Environments and Societies of the Ancient Orient, UMR 5133), Pauline Duval (CRCAO, PHD candidate)

International Collaborators

Thibaut Devièse (Research Laboratory for Archeology and Art History, University of Oxford), Elizabeth Berger (Lieberthal-Rogel Centre for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan), Sakikawa Takashi (University of Jilin), Shi Anchang (Musée du Palais), Wang Lixin (Research Centre for Chinese Frontier Archaeology, University of Jilin), Jing Zhongwei (Research Centre for Chinese Frontier Archaeology, University of Jilin), Tang Zhuowei (Research Centre for Chinese Frontier Archaeology, University of Jilin), Lin Sen (Research Centre for Chinese Frontier Archaeology, University of Jilin), Li Penghui (Research Centre for Chinese Frontier Archaeology, University of Jilin), Chen Xiaofei (Research Centre for Chinese Frontier Archaeology, University of Jilin), Wang Zhigang (Jilin Province Archaeological Research Institute), Liu Xiaoxi (Jilin Province Archaeological Research Institute)

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The French-Chinese Archaeological Project in North-East China (MAFNEC) includes experienced researchers, young archaeologists and doctoral students from various CNRS (CRCAO, Archéorient, ArScan, MNHN) and INRAP research teams. This project aims at the multidisciplinary study of several sites in the valley of the Dongliao River and contributes to archaeological research on marginal environments. Jilin Province is at the centre of Northeast Asia, and is one of the areas to attest the appearance the world’s oldest ceramic containers as well as complex Neolitization processes : it displays an absence of agriculture and domestication, with the presence of seasonal habitats and an economy based on fishing and hunting, etc. The development of Neolithic techniques and adaptation processes, such as the relatively late beginnings of agriculture and the spread of domestication in Northeast China, are issues that are increasingly attracting the attention of scholars around the world. The sudden development of sedentary settlements in the Middle Ages also raises many questions. The relationship between humans and the environment has yet to be studied in this region.
The project will focus on the middle stem of the Dongliao River immediately east of the confluence of the Xiliao and Dongliao Rivers. It is an environmental and cultural crossroads of three regions (the Dahei Mountains to the east, the Ke’erqin Desert to the west and Changchun Plain to the north), three provinces (Jilin, Inner Mongolia and Liaoning), and numerous archaeological cultures. The area, covered in black ​​sandy loam (phaeozem), is the site of major erosion accelerated by recent deforestation and intensive farming practices.

The southwest of the Jilin Province is a cultural crossroads that is still largely unknown to scholars, and an in-depth study of it can only be conducted hand-in-hand with international scientists. The main research focus is the processes of Neolithization and the dynamics of the transition between the Neolithic and the Bronze Age. Landscape-formation is a question that is rarely addressed in the archaeology of China and will constitute an important focus of the study of this site : it is a particularly interesting place within a set of paleo-meanders that strongly influenced the shape of the landscape and the availability of resources in different periods. Knowledge of the provenance of materials as well as of the exchanges, both on short and long distances, are an important focus of our work ; while the evolution of housing patterns (nomadism, seasonal habitats, sedentary lifestyle) and economic models are at the heart of the multidisciplinary approach carried by this research project.
The Franco-Chinese team will be built in the most symmetrical way possible : each French specialist, in addition to participating in team meetings, will work in partnership with a Chinese counterpart who will be his privileged collaborator. These pairs of researchers will exchange bibliographic data related to their field, will design analysis protocols that they consider best suited to the discoveries they supervise collaboratively, train students and other team members together, and produce joint publications. In addition to the ties that will be created in the field, and the visits of the different members of the project to France and China, the goal is to create long-term privileged relationships between specialists in the same field.