Forum Digs in to Solve Relics Site Mystery

Archaeologists are closer to solving the mystery of the relics site of Kuahuqiao in East China's Zhejiang Province.

Experts at a recent nationwide conference are closer to pinpointing the date of the excavation, discovered on the eastern outskirts of Hangzhou in 1990.

Although the province of Zhejiang is well known for its 7,000-year-old Hemudu Culture, Kuahuqiao appeared to be much older, judging from its relics, experts claimed.

However, since the site was too small for scientists to decide its exact origin, no more could be told.

However, last year, with a second excavation of the site from May to July, many more relics were unearthed, offering scientists a variety of precious objects.

A large symposium was organized last week to explore the secrets of Kuahuqiao by the provincial Cultural Relics Bureau. Renowned archaeologists from all over the country flocked to Hangzhou to study its relics, trying to decide the site's exact age, cultural characteristics and academic significance.

"The culture of Kuahuqiao is very unique," said Yan Wenming, a professor at Peking University, and researcher at the State Cultural Relics Bureau. "It can hardly be compared to any other ancient cultures discovered in the province, and we found it difficult to put it into the cultural chronology within our knowledge."

According to experts, among the many wooden, stone and pottery utensils unearthed from the site, there were no tripods and stones with drilling holes. Hunting occupied the main economic life of the Kuahuqiao people.

"This means the site has got the characteristics of a very early age," said Yan. "We tend to agree the whole culture started much earlier than Hemudu, while the latter part of it co-existed with Hemudu."

Yet, experts said they were still unable to tell the exact origin of the culture, as well as its final settling place.

"But judging from its basic composition of objects, its pottery making technique and their color, it is closer to other ancient cultures along the middle reaches of the Yangtze River," said Zhang Zhongpei, a researcher at the State Cultural Relics Bureau.

The majority of archaeologists showed a special interest in why a culture of the middle reaches of the Yangtze River could have emerged at a place in Zhejiang, and close to Hemudu.

"Hence, the New Stone Age culture of the Zhejiang Province is not easy to pinpoint," said Yan. "It must have come from several different origins, and to study the complicated relations among each of them will become our main work in the future.

"To date, we still cannot give Kuahuqiao a particular name of culture. We hope to find similar relic sites so systematic cultural characteristics can be discovered."

(China Daily April 4, 2002)

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