|Millenary Culture on Grand Display|
Under the guidance of Zhejiang Provincial Administration of Cultural Heritage and sponsored by Zhejiang Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, Zhejiang Provincial Museum, Pujiang County People’s Government, and Shangshan Cultural Relics Alliance, the exhibition puts on display the latest archaeological achievements on Shangshan culture unearthed from the sites of Pujiang, Qiaotou (Yiwu), and Xiatang (Xianju).
The opening ceremony of the exhibit “Millenary Zhejiang Starts from Here: Archaeological Achievement on Shangshan Culture” was held on the afternoon of January 15 at the Gushan Hall of Zhejiang Provincial Museum. Ge Xuebin, deputy director of the Publicity Department of the Provincial Party Committee; Liu He, director of the Provincial Administration of Cultural Heritage; and Jiang Leping, senior resea
From the perspective of the study of utensils, Shangshan culture features the combination of the characteristics of widemouthed pot and saddle-quern. These two kinds of artifacts are not only the most representative of the culture, but also reflect the presence of primitive rice culture.
Shangshan sites differ from others of similar ages in the sense that evidence of settlement, agricultural practice, and rice cultivation is preserved. In the absence of comparable evidence at other sites, Shangshan is the first example to be discovered and is considered the “first settlement in ancient China.”
Without a doubt, Shangshan culture presents a crucial cultural influence in that part of history. Particularly, Shangshan culture symbolizes the beginning of human settlement and, simultaneously, also symbolizes the genetic transformation and domestication of the species.
What’s On Display
Widemouthed pots, jars with handles, pottery kettles, cups, and bowls are some of the over 100 pieces put on display at the exhibition, which shows the early, middle, and late phases of the history of Shangshan culture. The attraction of the exhibition is the ten-thousand-year-old grain of rice which lays in the center of the exhibition hall central.
Ten-thousand-year-old grain of rice
Archaeological discoveries proved that rice domestication took place in Shangshan culture about 10,000 years ago. In the early stages of rice domestication, though, hunting and gathering was still an important food source, which still accounted for a larger proportion in the diet.
Saddle-quern and stone roller
Saddle-querns and stone rollers were used together to process food, like rough rice, nuts, and tubers.
Among the charcoal-mixed pottery unearthed from the Shangshan sites were mixed varieties and large quantities of rice husks, stems, and leaves.
A large quantity of rice grains and rachillae and a minor quantity of carbonized rice were found by floatation at the sites. The findings proved that the rice discovered at the site belongs to a quite primitive phase of rice cultivation. The variety of peculiar utensils unearthed at the site give the site itself great significance.
The utensils include colored pottery, which is so far the earliest painted pottery ever found in the world. And it is considered to be one of the sources of Chinese pottery production.
Widemouthed pots are considered to be cooking vessels and are the most abundant and representative discoveries of the Shangshan culture. A total of 323 pieces were unearthed from the Pujiang site, accounting nearly 57% of the total discoveries.
Pottery jars, considered to be containers, rank second for quantity of utensils unearthed from the Shangshan sites; presenting quite a rich variety of pieces, the most outstanding pieces are the double-handled jars.
Millenary Shangshan: World Rice Cradle
Since the discovery of the Pujiang site of Shangshan culture in 2000, a total of 19 early neolithic sites have been discovered throughout Zhejiang, and 13 of them are located in the municipality of Jinhua. Archeological discoveries of the Neolithic period in Zhejiang can be divided by the Qiantang River. North of the river is the basin of Lake Taihu, presenting the sites of Majiabang, Songze, and Liangzhu; south of the river stand the sites of Shangshan and Kuahuqiao.
On the occasion of last year’s Shangshan Symposium, experts agreed: “Shangshan culture is the cradle of the world’s rice culture. The evidence of the origins and development of rice in the Shangshan culture over thousands of years is an important revision in the understanding of the origin of world agriculture.”
This is the first Shangshan culture exhibition held at the provincial museum and is the first event putting on display the archaeological achievements in the study of Shangshan culture. Translated by Marco Lovisetto, edited by Mariam Ayad)