Largest confirmed Shang Dynasty site in Pearl River Delta revealed in Guangzhou
Published: Jun 27, 2023 04:53 AM
Guangzhou Photo: VCG

Guangzhou Photo: VCG

The Guangzhou Municipal Institute of Cultural Heritage and Archaeology announced on Sunday the recent discovery of the largest confirmed Shang Dynasty (1,600BC-1,046BC) site in the Pearl River Delta region, which offers valuable insights into early civilization and cultural development in the area.

The Zhuyuanling site is located in Huangpu district in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province. The excavation, which started in May, covers a total area of 13,500 square meters, with around 1,500 different-sized ash pits. Some of the ash pits with regular shapes and depths exceeding one meter are believed to have been storage pits or sacrificial pits. 

In addition, more than 1,800 caves of different sizes and depths were found, which are believed to be associated with stilt-style buildings, a popular architectural style in southern China characterized by structures elevated on stilts of varying heights. The excavation also unveiled 25 ash trenches of varying lengths and depths, suggesting a connection to natural or artificial drainage systems used by the ancient inhabitants for production and daily life.

Huang Bixiong, the leader of the archaeological excavation, said the site has yielded a substantial number of stone tools, including daggers and axes. Experts have speculated that the site may have served as a center for the production of stone tools and other daily items. "There should be a larger contemporary human site nearby," Huang said.

One particularly well-preserved artifact is a stone grinder, which is a rare find among archaeological discoveries prior to the Qin Dynasty (221BC-206BC) in Guangdong. 

Zhu Mingmin, vice president of the Guangzhou Municipal Institute of Cultural Heritage and Archaeology, said it is "finely crafted and resembles a medicine grinder, showcasing the wisdom of ancient people." This object may have been used in conjunction with an unearthed stone pestle, Zhu added.

A small amount of jade artifacts, pottery sherds and bronze ware items were also discovered at the site. Some of the finely crafted stone weapons and jade ornaments are believed to have been used for ceremonial purposes, according to Huang.