Chinese civilization has a history of more than 8000,5000 origins and more than <>,<> years of formation. It is precisely the new archaeological discoveries that have extended the historical axis of Chinese civilization, continuously enhanced historical credibility, enriched historical connotation, and made historical scenes more vivid.

The top ten new archaeological discoveries in the country in 2022 are expected to be announced by the end of this month. Previously, the results of the preliminary evaluation were announced: a total of 22 projects were shortlisted for the final evaluation stage.

As always, most of the shortlisted projects have a certain suspense. For example, the Shaanxi Baoji Zhouyuan site, which attracted much attention in 2021, failed to win in the fierce competition.

But every year, there will be at least two or three particularly outstanding archaeological discoveries in the shortlist, which are "seed players" with no suspense in the eyes of archaeological experts, such as Sanxingdui sites selected as the top ten archaeological new discoveries in the country in 2021.

Similarly, in the top ten archaeological new discoveries in the country in 2022, there are also several projects, which are considered by some archaeological experts to be selected in suspense.

School Liangzi Ruins

What did "Yunxian people" mean millions of years ago

Located in Yunyang District, Shiyan City, Hubei Province, the Xuetang Liangzi Site is a large wilderness site in the early Paleolithic period. In 1989 and 1990, the site unearthed two fossilized skulls of ancient humans, dated to about 2.110 million to 80,<> years ago, belonging to Homo erectus, and was named "Yunxian people" by the academic community.

Every fossil skull in ancient times is extremely precious. Human bones are inherently difficult to preserve, and the older they are, the harder they are to find – groundwater erosion, acids and bacteria in the soil... can easily let the bones "dust to dust, soil to soil".

On May 2022, 5, the skull of the third "Yunxian man" was found at the site of Xuetang Liangzi. It has been exactly 18 years since the first skull was discovered.

The newly discovered No. 3 skull, compared with the previous two, is well preserved, has a clear morphology, and has not undergone obvious deformation, and can provide richer and more authentic trait information than the two previously discovered skulls, and therefore more precious.

Ecstatic archaeologists said the skull was "the best preserved fossil fossil of a contemporary human skull ever found in inland Eurasia." Just excavating it, the archaeologists spent more than half a year trying to preserve it as well as possible, and built a square cabin with constant temperature and humidity on the site.

The owner of this skull lived on Earth about 100 million years ago. He/she is not even a direct ancestor of our modern man, but an even more ancient Homo erectus.

The ancestor of modern humans was Homo sapiens. There are currently two different hypotheses about the origin of Homo sapiens, one is that early Homo sapiens evolved in Africa about 30,6 years ago. About <>,<> years ago, some of these Homo sapiens went out of Africa and spread to the world, and in the process, Homo sapiens gradually "killed" other ancient Homo erectus such as Neanderthals and Denisovans, becoming the ancestors of all modern humans today.

In short, modern humans all originated from Homo sapiens who came out of Africa.

Another group believes that the ancestors of modern humans who are now distributed in Eurasia and other places are another group of Homo erectus who left Africa 200 million years ago. After these Homo erectus came to the Middle East, Eurasia and other places, they bred locally, first evolved into other transitional types of humans, and finally evolved into Homo sapiens, and had genetic communication with those Homo sapiens of African origin, rather than being completely replaced by them.

The idea that modern humans all came from the group of Homo sapiens who came out of Africa 6,<> years ago has dominated the past half century; However, in recent years, with the emergence of more fossil and paleogenomic evidence, the "multi-regional evolution theory" has gradually received more attention.

In 2019, a human mandible fossil from Xiahe County, Gansu Province, was determined to belong to the Denisovan 16,<>-year-old man, which was the first time in the world that a Denisovan fossil was found outside the Denisovan cave, so it became a sensational major discovery in the international archaeological community. Some scholars believe that new fossil evidence in China is rewriting the history of human evolution, especially in East Asia.

The Qinling Mountains and the upper valley of the Hanshui River, where the Liangzi site of Xuetang is located, is also an important ancient human migration and evolution zone - the skull of the famous "Lantian people" was found in Lantian, Shaanxi, located in this area; The White Dragon Cave Homo erectus about 50,10 years ago, the early modern people of the Yellow Dragon Cave about 150,<> years ago and more than <> archaeological sites of various Paleolithic periods are located in this area.

At present, the classification attributes and evolutionary stage of Yunxian people are still inconclusive. The mainstream view is that they belong to Homo erectus, and some scholars classify them as early Homo sapiens, because Yunxian Homo erectus has mixed characteristics of Homo erectus and early Homo sapiens, which also implies that Homo erectus and Homo sapiens in East Asia evolved continuously.

Therefore, as Lu Chengqiu, the person in charge of the Liangzi site of the school, said: the data of the "Yunxian people" are very important in discussing the evolution of Homo erectus, the origin and development of East Asia, and the temporal and spatial evolution relationship of the whole world.

Ruins of Sitai

About life in 10,000 years before history

This year marks the eighth year that archaeological excavations at the Sitai site have officially begun. Before 2019, archaeologists explored the remains of the third and fourth phases around 7600~7100 years ago. This is already a very old Neolithic site.

Located in the south of Sitai Mongolian Ying Village, Shijing Township, Shangyi County, Zhangjiakou City, Hebei Province, the site is the largest and well-preserved early and middle Neolithic site containing the remains of the Paleon-Neolithic transition period found in northwest Hebei in recent years.

About 80,<> years ago, it is a dividing line between the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods. In the <>s of last century, Su Bingqi, a famous archaeologist in China, proposed that one of the most urgent problems to be solved in Chinese archaeology today is the connection between the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods.

Since 2020, the Hebei Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology and the Zhangjiakou Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology have jointly carried out a new round of excavation and research, excavating more than 40 house sites and unearthing more than 800 pottery, stone, bone and shellfish relics. These sites and relics are divided into five phases according to stratigraphy, dating and remaining characteristics, of which the two earliest groups of remains are 10400~10000 years ago and 9200~9000 years ago. Through these two sets of remains, we can get a glimpse of the life of ancient humans tens of thousands of years ago.

The first is the "house" they live in, which is semi-crypt-type, with an area of about 7~10 square meters, which is only equivalent to a small guest bedroom where modern people can just put a single bed and a wardrobe. But in this small semi-crypt-style home, the ancestors not only arranged small fires for themselves to cook, but also piled up various grinding stone tools, mainly stone millstones, grinding rods (pestles), etc. used to grind grain, and rough but practical sand-filled clay pots. The raw material of sand pottery is unwashed clay, although there are many impurities, but it is resistant to high temperature and tough. Archaeologists analyzed that these clay pots should be living utensils, integrating cooking utensils, storage, water drawing and other functions.

Based on this, we can imagine a picture: the ancestors living in semi-crypt houses first put the harvested grain on a stone millstone disc and crushed it with a stone grinding rod, and then used a stone shovel to shovel the processed grain into a "pot (clay pot)", add water taken from the vicinity, and then put the "pot" on the fire and cook it slowly.

The way they build a house should be to first dig the foundation pit, that is, the small area of the crypt, and then insert several thicker tree trunks into the column holes dug in advance, and then use the earth to build the wall. At one site, archaeologists found that the dwelling surface and surrounding walls were covered with gray mud – despite the difficult conditions, these ancestors who lived at the junction of the Neopaleolithic period were still decorating their nests.

Since there are walls, where is the door? Did the ancient ancestors also walk through the door like we do today? Tao Zongye, former director of the Zhangjiakou City Cultural Relics Management Institute, believes that ancient humans were cave dwellers before they could build houses, so when they evolved to build houses, the first thing they thought of was probably to build after the caves they were used to living.

The sites of the Shangyi Sitai site are all semi-crypt-type, which is exactly in line with the needs of early humans: shelter from wind and rain, and protection against wild beast attacks. Therefore, including their way of entering and exiting the room, it is not to leave a wide doorway on the wall and enter and exit upright, but only to leave a smaller doorway, people want to enter the room, must lie down first, head outward, reflexively retreat into it little by little, so that they can always observe the situation outside the house and always be vigilant.

The earliest settlement villages found in this northern region provide typical and direct evidence for the study of the Paleon-Neolithic transition in northern China, and are of great value for exploring major topics such as the root system of Chinese civilization.

Ruins of the river moor

Why is there a "Yizhou County" by Dianchi Lake

Yunnan, like Sichuan, has been a multi-ethnic region since ancient times. Corresponding to the ancient Shu state familiar to Sichuanese people, ancient Yunnan also had the ancient Dian state, a local government that lasted from the Warring States period to the Han Dynasty and was part of the Southwest Yi.

At present, it is recognized that the earliest record of the ancient Dian state comes from a few sentences in the "History of the Southwest Yi Lie": "When the king of Chuwei was the beginning, the general Zhuang Yu followed the river, west of Luoba and Qianzhong." Zhuang Qi, so the descendants of the King of Chuzhuang and Miao..."

In 277 BC, this general of the Chu royal family named Zhuang Yi, after conquering the territory around the ancient Dianchi Lake for the monarch, was about to return to Chu to repay his merits, but found that Qianzhong County had been occupied by the Qin army, and his way back was blocked. Zhuang had no choice but to return to Dian Land, proclaimed himself king, and established the ancient Dian Kingdom. He wisely "changed his obedience and grew up from his customs", and led his sergeants to quickly integrate into the local culture, customs and life. In 1956, in the ancient tomb group of Shizhaishan in Jinning County, Kunming, Yunnan, a large number of exquisite bronzes and gold "Seal of the Dian King" were unearthed, confirming the reign of the ancient Dian King with archaeological evidence, which caused a sensation in the archaeological community.

More than a hundred years after the "Zhuang Yu Wang Yun", Zhang Qian returned to Chang'an on his second mission to the Western Regions, saying that he had seen southwestern products such as Shubu and Qiong bamboo cane in Daxia (present-day Afghanistan), proving that there was a trade route to the Western Regions in that area. Emperor Wudi of Han immediately ordered that envoys be sent to Xianyi to seek a way to Daxia, in order to form a pincer attack on the Xiongnu.

Near Erhai, the Han army was blocked by the local natives, so Emperor Wudi of Han decided to conquer the Dian Kingdom first. In the second year of Yuan Feng (109 BC), the Han army came to Yunnan and the king of Dian surrendered. The Han Dynasty established Yizhou Commandery in the Han Dynasty, and since then the Yunnan region has been ruled by the Central Dynasty, opening a new chapter of integration into a unified multi-ethnic state.

In 2019, archaeologists excavated the "Dian Kingdom Phase Seal" sealing mud in the No. 3 platform of Xiwangmiao in Hebosho, which not only further confirmed the existence of the ancient Dian Kingdom from the physical data, but also showed that the Han Dynasty had great political wisdom in governing the Dian State at that time - first, the surrendered Dian King still retained his throne, at least for a long time after Hanzhi County, the Dian Kingdom still existed; At the same time, Emperor Wudi of Han also set up Yizhou Commandery, and set up the Dian Chancellor, established a set of administrative management systems of the central dynasty, and achieved effective management.

In September 2022, at the press conference of the "Archaeology China" major project, the Yunnan Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology released the latest archaeological results: a large number of Han dynasty sealing mud and simple muzzles were unearthed at the site of Hebosho in Jinning District, Kunming City, providing important clues for finding the county government of Yizhou County placed by the Western Han Dynasty. Archaeologists speculate that this place was both the capital of the ancient Dian Kingdom and the county seat of Yizhou County (the capital of a county) of the Western Han Dynasty.

These official seals were mainly used to seal the official documents of the time, that is, simple seals. The written bamboo was packed in a wooden box, sealed with a piece of green clay, and the words were printed on the clay block to indicate the identity of the sender, somewhat similar to the postmark today. Official seals such as "Yizhou Taishou Zhang", "Jianling Lingyin", "Tonglao Cheng Seal", etc., covering the names of 24 of the 20 counties of Yizhou County in the Han Dynasty; The private seal clay has "Song Yu's Seal" and "Jun Feng's Private Seal", and archaeologists speculate that "Song Yu" and "Jun Feng" are the officials' own names. It is worth mentioning that these official seals also have the word "Chengdu" in them, indicating that they were sealed from official documents sent from Chengdu at that time.

During the Sui and Tang dynasties, there was a saying of "Yang one benefit two" - at that time, the first and second most prosperous people in the country were Yangzhou and Yizhou, respectively, and Yizhou here referred to Chengdu at that time. So why is the county seat of Yizhou County in today's Kunming?

Jiang Zhilong, a research librarian at the Yunnan Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology and the leader of the archaeological team of the Hebosho site, told reporters: Chengdu in the Han Dynasty belonged to Shu County and Kunming belonged to Yizhou County, both of which were under the rule of the Yizhou Spur History Department. "During the reign of Emperor Wudi of Han, there were thirteen thorn history departments in the country, and the Sichuan region was the Yizhou Thorn History Department, covering today's Sichuan, Guizhou, Yunnan and the Hanzhong Basin of Shaanxi." Jiang Zhilong said.

Among these inscriptions, the words "Dianchi Yiting Xing (sent to Dianchi County)", "Sin deserves death", "The fourth year of the first century" (83 BC) have been interpreted, which are precious material evidence reflecting the administrative exchanges and judicial system of Yizhou County at that time, and it is also another major archaeological discovery in southern China after the "Liye Qin Jian".

Jiang Zhilong said that the reason why the Hebosho site is particularly important is that for a long time in the past, only the tombs of the ancient Dian culture were found in the Dianchi Basin, and then the ruins of the ancient Dian culture village were finally found within the scope of the Hebosho site, which became a major breakthrough in the cultural archaeology of the ancient Dian Kingdom.

"It is now safe to say that Hebosho is a settlement site, with ancient villages buried underground, and also the capital of the ancient Dian Kingdom. This has to be put in the past, no one believes. Jiang Zhilong said, "If the discovery of the gold seal of the Dian King in the 20s of the 50th century is an opportunity for us to understand the existence of the ancient Dian Kingdom, then this excavation is like opening a window and providing more materials for studying the historical process of the formation and development of China's unified multi-ethnic state." Based on this batch of materials, we can further study the relationship between Yunnan and Shudi and the central government during the Han Dynasty. ”

Shortlisted for the final evaluation project

(In order of the times)

1. Hubei Shiyan School Hall Liangzi Site

2. Xu Yao site of Zhaojia in Linzi, Shandong

3. Shangyi Sitai site in Hebei

4. Anhui Hanshan Lingjiatan ruins

5. Gansu Qingyang Nanzuo Site

6. Ruins of Bicun, Xing County, Shanxi

7. Taiping Site in Xi'an, Shaanxi

8. Henan Yanshi Erlitou Duyi multi-grid layout

9. Shang Dynasty cemetery at the site of Xiwubi in Jiangxian County, Shanxi

10. Henan Anyang Yinxu Shang King Mausoleum and its surrounding remains

11. Xitou Ruins of Xunyi, Shaanxi

12. Ruins of Liyang City in Xi'an, Shaanxi

13. Ruins of Jinning River Park, Yunnan

14. Sangzhiguantian site in Hunan Province

15. Dasongshan Tomb Group, Gui'an New Area, Guizhou

16. Temple site of Hunchun Ancient City Village, Jilin

17. Ruins of the ancient city of Tang Dynasty Dun, Qitai, Xinjiang

18. Many sites of Qushui Wenjiang, Tibet

19. Henan Kaifeng Prefecture Bridge and nearby Bianhe ruins

20. Shuomen Ancient Port Site in Wenzhou, Zhejiang

21. Ningxia Helan Suyukou porcelain kiln site

22. The Zhang Rong family cemetery of the Yuan Dynasty in Jinan, Shandong

Chengdu Business Daily - Red Star News reporter Qiao Xueyang