Yiwu’s Qiaotou to Become Archaeological Workstation
The site area covers about 2000 sq. m and dates back about 8000 to 9000 years ago. Since early excavation in 2012, large numbers of late-stage pottery items of the local Shangshan culture have been unearthed. Both the quantity of the artifacts and the impressive preservation of their paint have attracted the attention of the archaeological community. These colorful pieces of pottery covered with bright motifs and with primarily red but also white cloth are recorded as the largest number of findings excavated among the different sites of Shangshan culture.
After repeated investigation and validation, archaeologists believe that the trench of Qiaotou presents particularly well-preserved findings which assert this is the earliest settlement yet known in the East Asian region.
Besides this, archaeologists also found the first tomb of Shangshan culture, which is considered to be the earliest tomb in Zhejiang having conserved entire human skeletons. At the Qiaotou site, a total of two sets of skeletal human remains have been found. One is fairly complete, presenting a 1.73-meter-tall man with an age of death between 30 and 40 holding a red pottery pot in his chest. This is believed to be the earliest human remains ever found in Zhejiang.
Experts explained that, at present, archaeological work on the Neolithic sites in Zhejiang, including those on the Hemudu and Kuahuqiao cultures, has counted very few discoveries of human tombs. The preserved tomb and human bones found at the Qiaotou site are the first breakthrough in archaeological work of the Neolithic sites in Zhejiang. Because of the historical value, the archaeological community labeled the discoveries “First Person of Zhejiang” and “First Tomb of Zhejiang.”
The establishment of an archaeological workstation at the Qiaotou site will deepen the study of the first person of Zhejiang and might bring about further surprises. “Zhang Chi, professor at Peking University, offered his own interpretation on the matter. He believes that modern Chinese descend from Mongoloid, but the remains at the site are clearly not so. The question, hence, is who settled this civilization 9000 years ago? The earliest presence of human activity in the South is related to Australo-Melanesian. Is the man found at Qiaotou an Australo-Melanesian? This is where further scientific analytical research is needed,” a spokesperson of the Yiwu Museum explained, and also included that the discovery provided new materials for investigation on Qiaotou.
Director Wang discussed that, taking into account the long-term planning of the future construction of the Qiaotou archaeological park, major architectural features of the workstation shall be integrated into the park construction. He also emphasized that the Qiaotou site is an important feature to build Yiwu’s cultural image and increase its attractiveness.
For the future, efforts to promote the construction of the archeological workstation of the Qiaotou site should be made, creating favorable conditions for the excavation and protection of the site and aiming at having Qiaotou shortlisted as among China’s top ten most recent archaeological discoveries. (By Wang Zhijian, translated by Marco Lovisetto, edited by Mariam Ayad)