Over 3,000-yr-old housing site found in China's Xinjiang

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Archaeologists have found a housing site dating back about 3,300 years in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, authorities said.

The housing site, covering some 1,240 square meters and consisting of 12 rooms including an anteroom, a kitchen and a warehouse, was discovered in the Kazak Autonomous County of Barkol.

The site had been renovated, used and abandoned at least three times, according to Ren Meng from Northwest University who is a leading member of the archaeological team.

The first use of the site was estimated at between 1,300 BC and 1,100 BC, and the second from 1,100 BC to 900 BC. During the first two times, the structure of the site remained basically unchanged.

Archaeologists basically identified the location of the kitchen on the basis of excavated relics, such as stoves, ash pits as well as barley in potteries, and inferred the positions of the main room and warehouse by analyzing the layout, wall structure and unearthed relics.

"We have decided to call the site 'the luxury lake-view house' because it features a complicated structure and is located near the Barkol Lake," Ren said.

Excavations revealed that by the time the site was rebuilt and used for the third time dating from 900 BC to 800 BC, the walls of the house had been buried and turned into earthen mounds. Besides, two artificial platforms were also built atop the mounds.

Based on fragmented pottery, barley, as well as traces of fire use, archeologists speculated that the site at that time was no longer a house with tall walls, but tent-like structures set up on the platforms.

"Both the tent-style structures built to replace the original house and the rough pottery discovered there indicate people seemingly had opted for a nomadic lifestyle during that period," Ren said.

To explore the impact of environmental changes on human activities, the archeology team and the department of geology at Northwest University conducted a study on the changes in the surface of the Barkol Lake.

The study found that before 1,000 BC, the water level of the lake was much higher than today, and the local climate was relatively warm and humid. After 1,000 BC, the lake began to recede, the climate became dry and cool, and drought-resistant plants began to grow on the grassland.

"It is likely that in the process of climate change, human beings at that time found the original lifestyle unsustainable, so they gradually embraced a nomadic life," said Ren, adding that the discovery is of great significance to figuring out key issues such as ascertaining the origin of the nomadic economy in the region. 

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