To tell the story of prehistoric Sichuan, we cannot bypass the plateau in northwest Sichuan and the upper reaches of the Minjiang River.

  About 6,000 years ago, when the Yangshao wind swept across the Central Plains, a group of people settled on the upper reaches of the Minjiang River, which was surrounded by water on three sides and backed by mountains on one side.

They use magnificent painted pottery in their daily life, use perforated stone knives as farming tools, and even make pottery human faces to express their beliefs.

  Later, people called this area the Yingpan Mountain Site Group in Mao County, Aba Prefecture.

The site group includes a number of cultural relic sites such as the Yingpanshan site and the Bosi site.

Standing outside of time, we can expand our sight a little bit. In its northwest direction, Malkanghaxiu, Konglong, Jinchuan Liujiazhai and other places in the Dadu River Basin have also left a lot of life in thousands of years. trace.

  The dotted ruins connect the prehistoric footprints of the ancestors of the northwestern Sichuan plateau, and are called by archaeologists as the near source of the ancient Shu civilization.

The archaeological team searched for clues in the missing data, and pieced together to restore the story that happened in China at that time: in the distant Yangshao era, the dawn of civilization appeared in the Central Plains, and the Miaodigou culture in the middle of Yangshao grew with a strong momentum. With "flowers" blooming in all directions, the Yellow River Basin and the Yangtze River Basin have been linked.

"Crazy" Expansion of Miaodigou Culture

  Before talking about Sichuan in the Yangshao era, let’s talk about Yangshao culture first.

  The Yangshao Culture existed about 7,000 to 5,000 years ago and is a painted pottery culture in the middle reaches of the Yellow River.

It was originally discovered in Yangshao Village, Mianchi County, Sanmenxia City, Henan Province, and was named after it.

In fact, the peak of the development of Yangshao culture was not in Yangshao Village, but in Miaodigou, Sanmenxia. Scholars called that period of glory the Miaodigou period of Yangshao culture.

  In 2021, the centenary of the birth of modern archaeology in China, the Miaodigou Archaeological Site Park officially opened.

The corrugated pottery pots displayed there are exactly the same as the pottery pieces unearthed from the Yingpanshan site group in Maoxian County more than 1,000 kilometers away.

  The Yingpanshan site group is located in the area of ​​Maoxian County, Aba Prefecture. Under the unified command of the Sichuan Provincial Bureau of Cultural Relics, since 2000, the Chengdu Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology has carried out 5 excavations around Yingpanshan together with relevant units, and discovered Posi, Yingpanshan, Shawudu and other sites are confirmed to be a group of Neolithic sites.

Nearly 10,000 pieces of pottery, jade, stone, bone and other relics were unearthed in the site group. The carbonized crop seeds found mainly include two varieties of millet and millet, which belong to a typical northern dry farming system.

  "The results of the excavation prove that Sichuan's prehistoric culture has actually been incorporated into the authentic Yangshao era system." Chen Jian, deputy director of the committee, researcher and leader of the archaeological excavation site at the Yingpanshan site, put forward a clear point of view.

  The Miaodigou culture between 6,000 and 5,000 years ago was the core and most developed stage of the Yangshao era.

The influence of the "crazy" Miaodigou culture in ancient times, like the continuous opening of many petals, spread outward, and has spread to many areas.

  The famous archaeologist Wang Renxiang called the expansion of Miaodigou painted pottery during this period "the wave of art in prehistoric China".

Its petals scattered in all directions, reaching Gansu, and then over the mountains and mountains, along the channel of the Hengduan Mountains, to the Minjiang area in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River - that is, the present-day northwestern Sichuan plateau.

  In Chen Jian's view, the influence of Miaodigou cultural elements on Sichuan is even further.

In the water ripples of artifacts unearthed from the Baodun Cultural Site, archaeologists saw the shadow of the Miaodigou Culture.

  Now, the academic circle has basically agreed with this view: at least in the most prosperous stage of Yangshao culture - the Miaodigou era, Sichuan area has been incorporated into the larger Chinese civilization system.

Painted Pottery Road from North to South

  The expansion of Miaodigou culture has left many traceable relics in prehistoric Sichuan.

From these discoveries, archaeologists have learned something about the story of Yingpan Mountain nearly 6,000 years ago.

  Chen Jian said that when it comes to the composition of culture, it generally starts from three aspects: material culture, institutional culture, and spiritual culture.

Field archaeology is mainly the discovery of material culture.

  Since the excavation in 2000, the typical Miaodigou style and Majiayao style painted pottery have been unearthed in the Yingpanshan site group and the Liujiazhai site in the Dadu River basin.

They are the most typical physical evidence of cultural exchanges between the Central Plains and Sichuan.

  "The patterns are exactly the same." Chen Jian said that he had sent the painted pottery samples from the three sites of Boxi, Yingpanshan and Haxiu for inspection. The results of scientific and technological archaeological tests showed that the two places, which are nearly 1,000 kilometers apart, have almost the same composition of painted pottery. kind.

"I'm very happy, this confirms that our initial speculation is correct. The painted pottery culture in the northwestern Sichuan plateau is closely related to the Yangshao Temple Digou stage, and they may have a painted pottery road from north to south." He said.

  After analyzing the composition of painted pottery, Chen Jian and his team started new speculation and research.

Since there is such a close connection, how did painted pottery come from the Yellow River Basin to the Yangtze River Basin?

Did it come to Sichuan directly through long-distance trade such as exchange, or did people from the Yellow River Basin bring raw materials and technologies to Sichuan for production?

The hypothesis is still inconclusive, and the chain of evidence needs to be further improved.

  In addition to the painted pottery, the face that Chen Jian used as his WeChat avatar is also a proof.

The ancestors of Yingpan Mountain used pottery clay as raw material to make a face with narrow eyes, a protruding nose and a small mouth.

"The style of this human face comes from the upper reaches of the Yellow River." Chen Jian mentioned the famous painted pottery vase in the shape of a human head at the Dadiwan site in Gansu. This similarity is another proof.

  The discovery of the nine human sacrifice pits at the Yingpanshan site not only reflects the dissemination of physical objects, but also reflects the exchange at the institutional level at that time.

Chen Jian explained that according to the results of human bone identification, they should belong to the same population type - the ancient northwest type.

The custom of human sacrifice first appeared in Yangshao culture.

In the agricultural society, the ancestors worshiped the power of the earth and believed that "blood sacrifice to the mother of the earth" could pray for a good harvest in the coming year.

This custom, which is difficult to be understood by modern society, was popular in the Central Plains at that time.

The human sacrifice pit found at the Yingpanshan site was probably influenced by the Yangshao culture.

  Through these trivial clues, the archaeological team tightened the rope of the hidden connection between the Yellow River and the Yangtze River.

Explore the source of ancient Shu civilization

  Chen Jian was over fifty years old. In his office, books and materials filled the bookcases, stacks of books taller than people were stacked on the ground, and there were pottery pieces waiting to be sorted out in the corner by the door.

A desk, a sofa, and an office of about ten square meters were stuffed to the brim.

  Chen Jian is a moderate scholar. He has written 6 monographs since he participated in the excavation of the Yingpanshan site in 2000.

It is these studies that connect the historical fragments in the upper reaches of the Minjiang River and make the legends and historical shadows gradually appear.

  Chen Jian said that, according to the archaeological discoveries on the plateau in northwest Sichuan, the civilization of the Yellow River Basin is indeed an important source of the ancient Shu civilization: the Yangshao culture from the Central Plains had a profound impact on the source of the ancient Shu.

  The middle and upper reaches of the Yellow River, as the development highland of Yangshao culture, produced a kind of radiation and conduction effect on the surrounding area.

"The transmission of the Yangshao culture to the Sichuan region seems to be 'wave-like'." Chen Jian said that the existing archaeological findings confirm that about 6,000 years ago, the Bosi site welcomed a group of residents; about 5,500 years ago, the Yingpan Mountain There was an influx of people at the site; about 5,000 years ago, Yingpan Mountain welcomed a certain size group for the third time.

  Some paleoenvironmental scientists believe that the spread of these ancestors from the Central Plains was caused by climatic anomalies.

Some scholars believe that this phenomenon is related to the rapid development of population culture and relative overpopulation at that time.

  Regardless of the reason, the Sichuan region and the Yangshao culture from the Central Plains are getting closer and closer in waves.

Chen Jian believes that the more far-reaching significance of this exchange is to make the upper reaches of the Minjiang River become the cradle of the ancient Shu civilization.

  Chen Jian said that the view generally accepted by the academic circle is that the Baodun culture is the predecessor of the ancient Shu civilization, and the Baodun culture is the Yingpanshan culture further ahead.

Therefore, the Yingpanshan site group should be the closest source of the ancient Shu civilization.

  The great ancestors walked out of the Hengduan Mountains and headed eastward, gradually set foot on the Chengdu Plain, and then continued to spread out.

From Longan Bridge to Baodun, to Sanxingdui and Jinsha, it outlines the splendid appearance of the ancient Shu Kingdom.

West China Metropolis Daily - Cover reporter Dai Zhuxin, intern Su Xueqing