New archaeological work site to strengthen research into Chinese civilization origins
Published: May 09, 2023 11:28 PM
The Archaeological Ruins of Liangzhu City in East China's Zhejiang Province Photo: VCG

The Archaeological Ruins of Liangzhu City in East China's Zhejiang Province Photo: VCG

A new archaeological work station helmed by Wang Wei, chief expert for China's Project to Trace the Origins of Chinese Civilization (PTOCC), was recently launched in Suzhou, East China's Jiangsu Province. 

Under Wang's supervision, the work station will scrutinize Suzhou's regional archaeological sites like the Sanshandao site. Discovered 36 years ago, the site is home to the first Paleolithic culture ever discovered along the lower reaches of the Yangtze River.  

Besides Suzhou, the work station's expanded scope will focus on the civilization of the Taihu River Basin, which ­covers most of southern ­Jiangsu Province and some parts of Zhejiang Province such as the capital city Hangzhou and a large part of Shanghai. 

"It is a cradle of several sites that are pivotal to China's PTOCC," archaeologist Xue Feng told the Global Times. 

In Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province, the 7,000-year-old Neolithic Majiabang Culture is a "map piece" that can be put together with the later developed Songze and Liangzhu cultures. 

Hangzhou-based historian Xu Zikang told the Global Times that the Taihu River ­Basin's ancient cultural ­landscape carries distinct "Southern Yangtze characteristics," as seen in relics like the Liangzhu culture's water engineering systems, jade artifacts and rice fields.

Speaking of Suzhou, the first prefectural-level city in China to establish a regional "civilization origin" ­exploration project, Wang told the Global Times that region-based archaeological sites in China form a "unified yet diverse" archaeological outlook.  

"Just like a satellite city, these work stations expand Chinese archaeological efforts, making them more comprehensive than just focusing on the study of individual 'capital' sites," Wang noted. 

In 2022, the authorities of Suzhou issued guidelines on the city's regional civilization origin research project. 

Five major projects have been highlighted under the new program, including tracing the origin of civilizations in the Taihu River Basin and a thorough research on prehistoric civilizations.