Xi'an, March 3 (Reporter Alina) On the 28th, the top ten archaeological new discoveries in the country in 28 were announced, among which the Xitou site in Xunyi, Shaanxi Province was successfully selected, which is the fifth time that the National Top Ten Archaeological New Discoveries have been selected in the national top ten archaeological new discoveries in the excavation project hosted and cooperated by the School of Cultural Heritage of Northwest University.

Unearthed relics. Photo courtesy of Northwestern University

From 2018 to 2022, Northwest University, Shaanxi Institute of Archaeology and other units carried out continuous archaeological excavations on the Xitou site, with an excavation area of 4750,650 square meters, and successively excavated five sites: Nantou, Yuzuipo, Jianzi, Shangmiao and Xiezhen. The remains of Yangshao, Longshan, Xianzhou, Western Zhou, Han and Tang dynasties were found, and more than 140 ash pits, 40 tombs, more than <> pottery kilns, house sites, ash ditches and other relics were excavated, and more than <>,<> pottery, bronze, bone and stone tools were unearthed.

Through regional systematic investigation, combined with archaeological exploration work, the Xitou site is the largest and highest-level Shang and Zhou period site in the Jing River Basin. At the same time, the large city site of the Western Zhou Dynasty, the weigou cemetery and a number of zigzag tombs found at the site show the high-level characteristics of the site.

Unearthed oracle bones. Photo courtesy of Northwestern University

It is understood that the Xitou site covers an area of about 300 million square meters, of which the distribution area of the remains of the Shang and Zhou period is about 200 million square meters.

In the Xitou site, archaeologists found a large weigou cemetery with an area of more than 15,120 square meters, with nearly 3,<> tombs in the waigou, and <> Western Zhou tombs and <> horse pits have been excavated.

It is worth noting that 3 zigzag-shaped tombs were excavated in the cemetery. Among them, M90 is an east-west tomb, and 38 martyrs were found in an orderly arrangement in the cemetery, which were discharged according to the position of "distributed in rows", and were buried in 3 layers, covering the entire cemetery. Five martyrs were found on the second floor platform on the west side of the burial chamber, the burial chamber is a coffin and a coffin, and there is a waist pit at the bottom of the burial chamber. At the same time, M5 unearthed a large number of sea shells, mussels, bronze fragments, original porcelain fragments, jade and inscribed bones.

"After learning the lessons of the Yin Shang Dynasty, the Zhou Dynasty established the ruling ideology of 'people-oriented', 'the Duke of Zhou advocated humanities', and generally did not practice the system of human martyrdom in tombs. The discovery of so many martyrs in the M90 tomb at the Xitou site indicates that this is a tomb that continued the Shang culture style during the Western Zhou Dynasty. We speculate that this was due to the fact that in the early days of the Zhou Dynasty, some merchants originally distributed in Anyang, Henan Province and other places were moved to the place of present-day Xunyi as a military force to guard the region. According to the situation of some weapons unearthed in the tomb and the accompanying burial products, it was preliminarily determined that the owner of the tomb should be a group of people responsible for overall management in the Jing River field. Dou Haifeng, project leader of the Xitou site and professor at Northwest University's School of Cultural Heritage, said.

In addition, fragments of bones with characters were found in the tomb. The discovery of this oracle bone further shows the peculiarities of the settlement hierarchy and population identity of the Xitou site.

M90 tomb. Photo courtesy of Northwestern University

In addition to M90 at the Xitou site, two large tombs of M98 and M99 have also been excavated, as well as more than ten small and medium-sized tombs. The M98 tomb arc is curved, the direction of the burial chamber is consistent with M90, the burial chamber is a coffin and a coffin, and there are a large number of carts and horses on the second floor of the tomb. The coffin of the M99 tomb is seriously disturbed, and the west side of the tomb is rich in relics, including ivory combs, dragon pattern lacquer plates, jade, turquoise and gold leaf sheets. Judging from the excavated relics, the age of the tombs in the weigou cemetery is mainly concentrated in the late Shang Zhou and early Western Zhou Dynasties.

Another discovery is that the M98 and M99 zigzag tombs are connected, and the M98 tomb is connected to the M90, indicating that the owners of the two tombs are closely related. At the same time, there is a ditch around the perimeter of the tomb, indicating that this is a separate cemetery, indicating that there is a difference in the population inside the ditch and outside the ditch. "Ancient tombs were often buried with blood as the core. We feel that it has broken through kinship and is a graveyard of social organization. Li Xiaojian, a postdoctoral fellow at Northwest University's School of Cultural Heritage, said.

In addition, the archaeology of the Xitou site provides important clues for the search for the Western Zhou "Feng Shi" contained in the literature. In 2022, through exploration, archaeologists discovered a city site with an area of about 80,<> square meters in the west area of the Xitou site, and the existing rammed earth city walls, moats and road remains, through the local dissection of the southern wall of the city site, and combined with the remains in the city site, judged the age of the city to be the early and middle Western Zhou Dynasty, and basically confirmed the distribution range of the northern, eastern and southern walls of the city site.

"Excavations of the 'city' are very rare in archaeology. In the Jing River Valley during the Western Zhou Dynasty, in addition to the ruins of the Yao River Plateau in Pengyang, Ningxia, it was regarded as the second city. Dou Haifeng said. The Pengyang Yao River Plateau is located in the uppermost reaches of the Jing River Basin, northwest, while the Xitou site is closer to Wanggi. Most importantly, as a benchmark site, the "city" can provide a clearer direction for the study of Zhou culture.

Distribution map of rammed earth walls, roads, trenches. Photo courtesy of Northwestern University

In the northeast of the site, copper smelting remains such as smelting residues, copper ore, slag slag and furnace wall fragments were found; The remains of deep cave-type grain storage were found at the Nantou site, and carbonized millet was found in the three-legged urn unearthed in the pit, and its structure was similar to that of the official "warehouse" in the Han and Tang dynasties; More than 2000,<> pieces of terracotta tiles have been unearthed in the strata and ash pits seen near the building site, and there are a large number of original porcelain and printed hard pottery.

Shaanxi Xunyi Xitou Site. Photo courtesy of Northwestern University

These empirical evidences and the step-by-step conjectures of archaeologists corroborate each other, providing important materials for the study of the settlement function of the Western Zhou city site, and the only Western Zhou city site found in the middle reaches of the Jing River provides important archaeological clues for exploring historical events such as "Gongliu Jufen" and "Ancient Gong Qi's father moved to Qi". The city site construction specification and clear functional division are typical cases for studying the Western Zhou city, which provides a very important archaeological basis for exploring the origin and development of Zhou culture, settlement layout, population composition and social changes in the Shang and Zhou Dynasties. (End)