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Hemudu Culture Forced on Move by Flood

It was a flood, not seawater, that removed the Hemudu culture, one of the most important Neolithic cultures in China some 7,000 years ago, out of its ancestral home, a local archaeologist suggested recently.

It has been a long-perplexing mystery why the Hemudu culture, a symbol of China's ancient civilization, suddenly abandoned its home after dwelling there for 2,000 years.

Uncovered in 1973, the Hemudu relics were situated in the Hemudu Town in Yuyao in east China's Zhejiang Province.

Archaeologists have already decided, however, that the relocation was caused by either the frequency of seawater or a flood.

Based on the analysis of the geographic environment in the region, Shao Jiuhua, former curator of the Hemudu Museum, recently proposed that a malicious flood wield a fatal strike at the Hemudu Culture.

The Hemudu was attacked by at least two vicious and long-lasting floods, he argued, one 6,000 years ago and the other 5,000 years ago, as detected through the accumulation of strata.

The second flood not only submerged the houses of the Hemudu residents, but unexpectedly changed the course of a local river called Yaojiang River as well.

The change in the river course posed a natural barrier to the residents who usually went hunting for food in the hills on the other side of the river.

Even more detrimental, seawater mixed back in along the new river caused the soil to have saline in it, which made it sterile and forced the residents to move.

Shao also pointed to the remnants of some big logs in the Hemudu relics as traces of a flood. Only logs that serve as keels in houses were held down while trigs and twitch grass used for thatching the roofs were washed away, he explained.

Moreover, the fact that the silt gets thicker eastward under the Hemudu relics might be another factor pointing toward a flood, he said.

At the same time, Shao denied the theory of seawater invasion as "not in line with the archaeological finding in the region."

None of the remnants like shells bequeathed by sea invasion had ever been discovered in the vicinity, he said.

Furthermore, Shao emphasized that "sea invasion is gradual in its effect and therefore could not annihilate a culture all of the sudden like a flood, seaquake or an earthquake does."

(People's Daily)

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