【Archaeological China】

  On this plateau, regarded by some as a desert, are buried valuable ancient treasures.

The great significance of these treasures in science, some of which are difficult to make a proper evaluation at our current level of understanding.

  ——Tong Enzheng (the late famous archaeologist, the host of the excavation of the Karo ruins in Qamdo)

  Archaeology is an empirical science, an interdisciplinary subject of natural science and humanities, and its disciplinary characteristics transcend the prejudice and one-sidedness of traditional text writing.

The new discoveries and achievements of Chinese archaeology have become one of the important sources of cultural confidence of the Chinese nation.

On the Tibetan Plateau, known as the "roof of the world", archaeology uses physical objects to form a "chain of evidence", showing the world an unprecedented new chapter in the history of human, cultural and civilization in Tibet, and has made unique scientific contributions.

  Outline the outline of Tibet's prehistoric appearance

  Archaeology shows the historical context of the origin and development of Chinese civilization, and proves my country's "million years of human history, 10,000 years of cultural history, and more than 5,000 years of civilization history".

In this long period of time, the history of the Central Plains civilization system has only been recorded for more than 3,000 years, and the historical knowledge that accounts for more than 99% of the history of human development comes from archaeology.

  For the Tibetan Plateau, the history with written records is more recent. Until the rise of the Tubo Dynasty in the Tang Dynasty in the 7th century AD, there were only general records in Chinese history books such as "Tubo Benxi Qiang Genus". produce.

Therefore, Tibetan history is still shrouded in a mysterious cloud of smoke.

People may know the beautiful story of Princess Tang Wencheng's marriage to Tubo Zampo Songtsen Gampo through documents and legends, but for earlier Tibetan history, there are only folklore and mythology.

In these legends and myths, the earliest humans in Tibet are considered to be the "descendants of Sakyamuni", or the offspring of the mating of "sacred monkeys" and "Rakshasa women".

According to this myth and legend full of religious colors, the earliest history of Tibet is nothing but the Spring and Autumn Period when Confucius lived in the Central Plains.

  Until the 1970s, archaeologists from Sichuan University and the Tibet Autonomous Region discovered the Neolithic village ruins of Karo in Qamdo after scientific archaeological excavations in the Qamdo area of ​​eastern Tibet.

This site, dating back about 5,000 years ago, is the first time that scientific evidence of prehistoric human survival activities on the Tibetan Plateau has been revealed to the world, which is amazing: as early as the Neolithic Age, there were settled people on the Tibetan Plateau.

They lived in semi-cryptic and stone-built houses, went hunting in the mountains, fished in rivers, and sewed clothes with bone needles; they learned to grow millet (millet) and make pottery; in their spare time, they even used animal bones , pottery fragments and seashells imported from afar make exquisite decorations, and the love of beauty has infiltrated into the details of life.

  After the unremitting efforts of several generations of archaeologists, a basic framework of human history, cultural history and civilization history of the Tibetan Plateau has now been formed.

Using archaeological data, we can roughly outline the outline of Tibet's prehistory: starting from the earliest Paleolithic age, about 100,000 to 50,000 years ago, human beings have lived in different directions and routes according to different Ways and steps to set foot on the Tibetan Plateau, they mainly made stone tools, engaged in gathering and hunting activities; about 5,000 years ago, settled agricultural villages appeared in the relatively warm climate areas in the eastern and central parts of the plateau, and people began to make Grinding stone tools, firing painted pottery, planting grains, and domesticating animals entered the Neolithic Age, which archaeologists call the "Agricultural Revolution". Following this, the Tibetan Plateau also entered the "Early Metal Age". Learn to use copper and iron, and perhaps in some areas it is even possible to smelt and make metal in the unique way of the plateau.

  Like other ancient civilizations in the world and the development path of prehistoric culture in mainland China, the prehistoric humans on the Tibetan Plateau also experienced from the Paleolithic, Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages (only according to current archaeological data, these two stages in Tibet are still Can not be completely separated, collectively referred to as the "Early Metal Age") these major developmental stages.

Around the 7th century AD, the tribes on the Tibetan Plateau gradually formed a unified Tubo Dynasty, and established characters, castles and local political powers. They learned from the civilization achievements of the Central Plains and surrounding ethnic groups to form various institutional cultures and entered the historically recorded Tibet. During the historical period, a new chapter in the history of Tibetan civilization was opened.

  Scientific archaeological evidence also provides an undeniable fact that from the Paleolithic Age to the Tang and Tubo times, and even in the subsequent historical periods, Tibetan culture and civilization are inextricably linked with mainland China. The trajectory has always been developing towards the east, and its "cultural background" has been marked with a strong oriental imprint from the very beginning.

 Provide a unique sample of the world

  The Tibetan Plateau is the region with the highest average altitude on earth and has long been considered a "forbidden zone for human life".

The scientific discovery of Tibetan archaeology has shattered this myth with a large amount of physical evidence: the "Denisovans" of the Paleolithic Age were probably one of the first people to adapt to the climatic conditions of high altitude areas, and their life mechanism has begun to have resistance. Special genes such as high cold and hypoxia have laid a biological foundation for human beings to live endlessly and settle down on the snowy plateau from generation to generation.

The fearless spirit of human beings to challenge the limits of life and survival has finally overcome the harsh ecological environment and natural conditions under extreme conditions, and created on the plateau from the Paleolithic Age to the Neolithic Age, the Early Metal Age and other stages with plateau civilization characteristics. of human culture.

  The people who set foot on and settled on the plateau in the early days showed great ingenuity in the selection, cultivation, and dissemination of species. One of the highland barley, people finally established a crop system with highland barley as the main food, supplemented by peas, wheat and other crops under the alpine conditions.

Today people are familiar with highland barley wine and butter tea, yak and other domesticated animals known as the "boat on the plateau", all of which are special products of plateau civilization; the oldest religion in Tibet, "Bon Religion" (also known as "Black Religion") , long before Buddhism was introduced to the Tibetan Plateau, it has become the spiritual belief of the people on the plateau. The worship of various natural objects and natural phenomena such as sacred mountains, holy lakes, ancient trees, strange stones, sun, moon, stars, clouds, etc., is a difficult task for people on the plateau. The most simple spiritual yearning and sustenance under the environmental conditions; the legendary epic "Gesar" full of nomadic heroic feelings, tells the world the history of the creation of the people of all ethnic groups in the plateau... Until today, the reason why people have a love for the Tibetan plateau It is because the Tibetan plateau has provided a unique world sample of "plateau civilization" for all mankind.

No matter in terms of human physical characteristics or cultural characteristics, under the nourishment of Chinese mother's milk, it not only has the same "cultural genes" as all Chinese nationalities, but also produces the unique quality of plateau civilization. With its unique religion, philosophy , history, nationality, language, literature, and art traditions have become a member of the diverse family of the Chinese nation, which has strongly attracted the attention of the world.

Archaeology, on the other hand, can trace its origins from biology to anthropology and sociology, rediscover, sort out and reproduce the long-lost history, and make an unprecedented vivid and rich interpretation of this "sample".

  Supplementary Key Information for Tibetan Studies

  The importance of Tibetan archaeology is also reflected in the fact that it is an international "explicit study" and a new growth point for traditional Tibetan studies, injecting fresh blood into international academics.

Looking back from the perspective of academic history, Tibetan studies, like Dunhuang studies, Mongolia studies and other disciplines, are often regarded as an important part of the "History of Inner Asia" in the international academic circles, with a long history of discipline development and a profound academic foundation.

  Entering Tibet as a "Tibetan scholar" to carry out "archaeology" and "exploration" activities could be said to be the "patent" of Western scholars before 1950.

But even so, the biggest difference from the Western Regions, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Northeast China (Manchuria) and other frontier areas is that due to the strong resistance and opposition of the Tibetan people to foreign forces, there are not many Westerners who can really penetrate the Tibetan Plateau.

Italian scholar G. Tucci is the representative of Western scholars at the highest level in the field of Tibetan archaeology and art.

He added Tibetan archaeology to traditional Tibetan studies, thus giving Tibetan studies a new look and pioneering power.

However, Tucci's archaeological work on the Tibetan Plateau was mainly based on surface collection, observation and recording. Underground archaeological excavations could not be carried out effectively due to limited conditions, and the data obtained were very limited.

  After the peaceful liberation of Tibet in 1951, fundamental changes have taken place in Tibetan archaeology.

Under the care of the party and the state, the Tibet Autonomous Region has begun to establish cultural relics and archaeology institutions. Sichuan University, Peking University, Northwest University and other universities have cultivated the first batch of Tibetan archaeological talents, and planned to carry out three consecutive cultural relics censuses in the entire Tibetan Plateau. The excavation work of several important archaeological sites, such as the famous Qugong site in Lhasa, the Xiaoenda site in Qamdo, the Changguogou site in Shannan, and the Piyang Dongga site in Tibet, are all located here. discovered and excavated in the process.

In recent years, Tibetan archaeology has been included in the state-led "Archaeology China" project, and the "14th Five-Year Plan for the Development of Cultural Relics and Archaeology in the Tibet Autonomous Region" has also been formulated.

In the past two years, the Ni'adi Paleolithic site in northern Tibet, the Alisandarongo cemetery, and a batch of the latest archaeological achievements, which have been selected as the "Top Ten New Archaeological Discoveries in China", have greatly enriched the connotation of Tibetan archaeology and provided the foundation for the final establishment of the The archaeological and cultural sequence of the Tibetan Plateau continues to provide information.

  Tibetan archaeology has become a new growth point for Tibetan studies.

Because traditional Tibetan studies mainly rely on Chinese and Tibetan documents and a very small amount of Tubo inscriptions and bamboo slips, they cannot solve the three most important archaeological questions about early human civilization, namely the origin of humans, the origin of agriculture, and the origin of civilization.

For the Tibetan Plateau, to achieve breakthroughs in these three research fields, it must rely on the scientific research results provided by archaeology.

Even into the historical period of Tibet recorded in documents, archaeology still rewrites and enriches the history of Tibet to a large extent.

For example, the proposal and specific practice of several major propositions such as Xiangxiong archaeology, Tubo archaeology, plateau Silk Road archaeology, and Tibetan Buddhist cave temple archaeology are cutting-edge academic topics that have attracted great attention from the international Tibetan academic community.

The scientific evidence provided by Tibetan archaeology and the research results obtained therefrom are increasingly recognized by the academic circles at home and abroad, and are valued by domestic and foreign counterparts.

The discourse power of Tibetan archaeology has begun to shift to the hands of Chinese scholars.

  The late famous archaeologist, Professor Tong Enzheng of Sichuan University, who was in charge of the excavation of the Qamdo Karo site, once predicted: "On this plateau, which some people regard as a desert, there are precious ancient treasures buried. These treasures are buried in Some of the scientific significance is difficult to make a proper evaluation at our current level of understanding." Looking forward to the Tibetan archaeology in the new era, under the inspiration of General Secretary Xi Jinping's important speech, Chinese archaeologists will surely be able to live up to expectations and give the world Hand over an answer sheet full of Chinese wisdom and Chinese strength.

  (Author: Huo Wei The pictures in this article are taken by the author unless otherwise noted)