Getting the earth to reveal our history

By Deng Zhangyu | China Daily | Updated: 2022-09-09 08:35
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A bird's-eye view of the Shijiahe site, about 15 kilometers away from Tianmen, Hubei province.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Ancient city's secrets may shed light on the journey of mankind, Deng Zhangyu reports.

A national comprehensive research program, launched in 2002, to trace the origins of Chinese civilization, has led to the excavations and studies of key sites that are about 3,500 to 5,500 years old. It has revealed a host of secrets about ancient China, including how early civilizations were formed and how they merged to create unity in diversity. China Daily speaks to experts working at these sites to decode their recent discoveries.

Zan Cunbao and his team from the Hubei Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology have been digging pits since April, sifting through layers of earth day after day, at Shijiahe site in Tianmen, Hubei province. Their aim is to find evidence of buildings used for high-ranking groups, such as kings or military officials, at the prehistoric site dating back 6,000 years.

Listed among the Top 100 Archaeological Discoveries of China in the Past Century, which was released last year, the site boasts continuous cultures from 5,900 to 3,800 years ago. It is regarded as the capital city that was the largest in size, and owned the biggest number of settlement clusters surrounding it in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River, in the late Neolithic period.

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