Monday, 20 January 2014

The excavation of “Fuhe culture” site in Inner Mongolia reveals 5000-year-old prairie culture

In order to figure out the preservation state of Fuhegoumen site in Bairin Left Banner, Inner Mongolia after which Fuhe culture is named, a small scale of excavation was carried out by the Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Science from July to September in 2013, covering an area of about 180 square meters. And important achievements have been made through this season of work.

Landscape of Fuhegoumen site
During the excavation, seven semi-subterranean house foundations are discovered. Most of them are square in plane. All of them are built on the slope of the hill, facing southeast. The north parts of the house foundation are preserved relatively well whereas the south parts are totally destroyed. Besides, there are two kinds of hearths found in these houses. One are earthen pit hearths, the other are slate-constructed hearths. The latter ones are either rectangular or round in plane. Post holes are found in some house foundation, too. Interesting phenomena of the construction of the houses are noticed that latter houses are overlapped on the previous ones, and are arranged in rows. Among them four houses are overlapped one by one. However, they did not overlap each other completely, the latter one only covered the part of the previous one and expanded the space out of the north wall of the previous one.

house foundation excavated at Fuhegoumen site
 Furthermore, many pottery shards are unearthed from the site, but no complete vessels. Most of them are sand-tempered while few are made of clay. Grey pottery are the mainstream. Sand-tempered shards are fired under relatively low temperature and rather loose. Besides plain pottery, the decorations include zigzag pattern, zigzag pattern with comb impression, attached pattern, poke-stamped pattern, mat impression and so on. The recognized shapes of pottery are barrel-shape pots, vessels with an oblique mouth, bo-bowls as well as small cups and so on. And all of the pottery are hand-made. 
There are relatively more stone artifacts being found, including flakes, cores, micro-blades, micro-blade cores, used flakes and blades as well as other stone artifacts. Among them, flakes take the largest percentage. The stone artifacts can divide into two categories, which are large stone tools and blade stone tools. The majority of the former ones are made of cores which are knapped directly by a hammer stone. Very rarely, grinding traces can be found on them. This type of stone tools are mainly choppers, adzes, adze-shaped stone tools, axes, scrappers, points, pestles as well as grinders and etc.. Choppers are the most popular ones. The latter assemblage concludes arrowheads, bores (or awls) and pointing tools and so on. And there are also micro-blade cores in the shape of wedge, pyramid and pyramid without pointing end.

pottery unearthed from Fuhegoumen site
 Moreover, plenty of animal bones as well as bone artifacts are unearthed. They consist of bone awls, arrowheads, dentate bones, fishhooks, needles and so on. Bone awls belong to the largest kind. What’s more, some personal ornaments made of mussels, shellfish and animal teeth are revealed.
As the second excavation of Fuhegoumen site since 1962, this season has unearthed characteristic features as well as rich artifacts including pottery, stone and bone tools and etc., enriching research material of Fuhe culture. At the same time, some other sites with pure remains of Fuhe culture have also been confirmed in the region of Wuerjimulun River, which further demonstrate the independent existence of Fuhe culture. All in all, this field work throws new lights on the important position of Fuhe culture in the Neolithic period of China.    (Translator: Ma Huanhuan)

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