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Huan Yueliangpao diqu quyuxing xitong diaocha baogao



Pauline Sebillaud, Wang Lixin 王立新. Huan Yueliangpao diqu quyuxing xitong diaocha baogao 环月亮泡地区区域性系统考古调查报告. Science Press, 2023, 9787030759085

This report presents data collected during a systematic regional survey conducted between 2012 and 2016, around Yueliang Lake. The survey focused around the Houtaomuga site, located where the Tao’er River enters the Nen River, in Da’an City and Zhenlai District, in northwest Jilin Province, Northeast China. A total area of 284 km² was surveyed, including 4266 collection units covered and 152,245 pottery sherds collected. A total of 73 sites were identified, including 61 newly discovered sites. These data allowed for a comprehensive analysis of the change of the settlement patterns from the Early Neolithic (ca. 10 000 BC) to the Republican Period (early 20th c. AD). This research aims to investigate the growth and development of human communities within the Yueliang region. The project also aims to elucidate how those social changes intersect with the unique trajectory of subsistence strategies found in this region. These results are placed into broad comparison with other similar projects within the region and beyond. This is the first systematic regional survey carried out in Jilin province, and this report is the first archaeological publication on the long-term human occupation in the rich and complex Lower Nen River Valley, located at the cross-roads of Inner Mongolia Daxing’an Mountains, Jilin province’s Song River Plain and southwest Heilongjiang’s lakes. The first chapter introduces the environmental context including the topography, climate, plants, fauna, water drainage, and sediments and provides the most complete synthesis to date on the previous research in the region. This chapter also introduces in detail the research methodology, including field survey, post-survey processing and analysis methods. The field methods used in this project are only a slight variation on the successful collection strategies used by several surveys throughout China and Mongolia and thus can provide data sets that are directly comparable. In the second chapter, the data analysis is presented, and changes in settlement dynamics in the Yueliang region explained. This analysis sheds light on the degree to which the settlements are integrated with one another. The earliest detected human activities coincide with the Early Holocene and are represented by the earliest pottery in Northeast China, belonging to the Houtaomuga phase I culture and the Changtuozi 1 type (10,900-8000 BC). One of the most important results of this survey is the identification of six sites (five previously unknown) with these very early sherds, associated with large quantities of microlithic tools. The activity and impact of the few human groups inhabiting this landscape was very scarce, as the settlement distribution left vast available land resources unexploited, and no regional settlement organization seems to have formed yet. The Period 2 pottery is mostly attributed to the culture of Houtaomuga phases II (8000-4300 BC) and III (4300-3500 BC). The sites are larger and distributed along the shores the lakes and waterways. The degree of integration had strengthened to some extent. The settlements show evidence of a relatively simple economic system, with low levels of competition. The Period 3 sherds are stylistically close to the Houtaomuga phase IV culture (3500-2900 BC). The sites are smaller and less numerous, and the population aggregated at higher elevations, mostly within the Houtaomuga phase IV village. The Early to Middle Bronze Age period corresponds to the Xiaolaha (ca. 2000-1600 BC) and Gucheng (ca. 1300-1000 BC) archaeological cultures. The sites are more numerous and larger, and most are located in the eastern part of the survey area. The larger sites, Hanshu and Houdiwopu, could have had a hierarchical relationship or different functions than the other average-size sites. This distribution could have played a role in controlling the Nen River communication axis. The Late Bronze Age corresponds to the Baijinbao culture (ca. 1000-500 BC). The sites show continuity of spatial occupation with the previous period. Hanshu and Houdiwopu maintained their role as settlement centers, and a clear spatial division between settlements and cemeteries appears during this period. The Early Iron Age coincides with the Hanshu phase II culture. The increased number and size of the sites show a significant increase in the intensity of occupation. This settlement system is organized around multiple centers, and the site hierarchy becomes clearer. The settlement system is integrated and shows a hierarchical social organization, as well as an integrated economic system. Sherds belonging to the period between the 3rd and the 8th c. AD, associated with the local Xianbei or pre-Khitan cultures, are very scarce. The sites are rare and small. This quasi-abandonment of the region might be connected to changes in resources and subsistence model. These small sites may be related to temporary activities, seasonal fishing activities, or indicate frequent travel along the waterways. The sherds of pottery and architectural materials of the Late Middle Age or Liao-Jin period (900-1300 AD) are overwhelmingly present at all the sites. The increase in the number of sites, site size, and sherd density reveal an unprecedented new settlement system. A large number of people may have come to the area to open up forests and drain marshes, bringing in new lifestyles. The development of a myriad of small sites and farmsteads further from the waterfront reflects the intensification of agricultural production and a new use of the hinterland. During the Modern period (1800-1949 AD), the number of sites and their size remains stable. The settlement organization shows a clear continuity with the Liao-Jin period and is also directly related to the current distribution of villages in the area. These results are compared with other surveys previously organized in Northeast China to show how settlement distribution, social structures and subsistence practices differed between the Yueliang region in the lower Nen River Valley and the Liaoxi region. The last chapter presents in details all the information about the 73 sites discovered during this survey, including all the quantitative data, the spatial distribution of the remains from each period and descriptions of the related artefacts. The spatial analysis of the results of this survey sheds new light on the interactions between archaeological cultures, and on the local trajectory of settlement patterns and subsistence strategies from over 10,000 BC to the historical era, and provides data about the current and ancient environment and socio-economic changes in this region and how they differ from other nearby regions. With its innovative structure and abundant colour maps and artefact photographs, this report provides a unique tool to visualize the sites in their landscape, as well as identify and directly compare sherds. The fact that all the periods were taken in account, up to the most recent ones, provides the readers with comparison materials for all-period excavations and surveys in Northeast China. With its extensive methodological explanation and exhaustive appendices, this report can be used in the future as a basis to organize similar projects. This research shows how spatial analysis and settlement pattern analysis, especially when focused on human-scale landscapes such as river valleys, can capture the complexity and diversity of human subsistence systems.