Foundations of Ancient Houses Excavated in Central China

Chinese archaeologists have discovered the foundations of a group of houses dating from the late Shang Dynasty (c.1300-1050 BC) in central China's Henan Province.

Covering nearly 50,000 sq m, the foundations are located on thesouthern verge of a protection zone where Yinxu, the ruins of the late Shang Dynasty capital, was unearthed.

Excavations at Yinxu have revealed tombs, palace and temple foundations, bronzes, jade carvings, lacquer, many inlaid items, white carved ceramics and green-glazed wares since the ruins were discovered by Chinese archaeologists in 1899.

The foundations of the late Shang houses are just 1 km away from Xiaotun Village in Anyang City, where the famous inscribed animal bones and tortoise shells, known as oracle bones, were found. The bones and shells carry the earliest known examples of Chinese characters.

Meng Xianwu, who heads an excavation team, said the foundationsof three houses were connected, and four other houses formed a "Siheyuan"-shaped complex - one with houses around a courtyard.

Several hundred tombs were also unearthed when the foundations were discovered.

Archaeologists said it was the first time such a large group ofhouse foundations had been found at Yinxu, providing valuable evidence for the study of the Shang Dynasty social structure.

( Xinhua News Agency August 28, 2002)