Archaeological Institutes of Sichuan and Shaanxi investigate the directions of the Southern Silk Road

2016-8-31 17:31| Editor: 武子| view: 373| comment: 0|Author: Translated by Jinchao Zhao|Source: 光明日报

Summaryuuuuuu: 搜索复制This July, an archaeological report titled The Excavation Report of the Phùng Nguyên Cultural Site at Yili, Vietnam was published. It summarizes the archaeological work over the last ten years. This excavation at Vietnam was initiated in 2006 by the S

This July, an archaeological report titled The Excavation Report of the Phùng Nguyên Cultural Site at Yili, Vietnam was published. It summarizes the archaeological work over the last ten years. This excavation at Vietnam was initiated in 2006 by the Sichuan Antique Archaeology Academy and the Shaanxi Archaeology Institute. Marking the first time for Chinese archaeological institute to conduct field excavations at another country independently, this excavation is ice-breaking in the history of Chinese archaeology.

Relics Unearthed

Since the 1980s, a group of Chinese scholars working on the Southeast Asian archaeology has noticed that the culture from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age of the Northern Vietnam shared a number of similarities with that of the contemporary and earlier civilizations of Sichuan Province. Several jade pieces found in the Bình Phước Province and the Phú Thọ Province in the Northern Vietnam are similar with corresponding items found at the Sanxingdui cultural site. Both Chinese and Vietnamese historical works record the existence of the cultural communication between the ancient Shu Kingdom at Sichuan and the ancient Văn Lang Kingdom in the northern part of present Vietnam. Thus the archaeological study of the relationship between the culture of the Sichuan Basin and the Bronze Age of the northern Vietnam, particularly the influence of the Sanxingdui Culture over the Southeast Asia, strongly attracts the attention of Chinese archaeologists.

As the initiator of the excavation of the Phùng Nguyên site at Yili, Vietnam, Dean of the Sichuan Antique Araeology Academy Gao Dalun said that “this is the first time for China and Vietnam to have a joint archaeological excavation. It is significant for studying the early civilization of the Bronze Age of the northern Vietnam and its cultural interaction with the Bronze Age culture of the southern and the southeastern part of China, and for understanding the radius of influence and the whereabouts of the Sanxingdui culture.”

This excavation shows that the Southern Silk Road has linked China with the Southeast and the West Asia before the exploration of the Western region and opening of the traditional Silk Road by Zhang Qian. The Southern Silk Road has already functioned during the Shang - Zhou periods when the Phùng Nguyên culture was flourishing at Vietnam.

The transnational cooperation led by the archaeological work at Vietnam

1992, Gao Dalun was invited by Vietnam scholars to conduct archaeological investigations with Vietnam archaeologists when he was participating in a conference of East Asian jades at Hong Kong. 2004, Gao Dalun started to talk about the details of the cooperative excavation with the Vietnam side, right after his first-time visit to the jade collections in the Vietnam Museum during an academic investigation at the China-Vietnam border, because those jade objects show distinct similarities with the remains from the Sanxingdui culture. The Sichuan Antique Archaeology Academy also invited the Shaanxi Archaeology Institute for enhancing the excavation.

2006, the archaeological team constituted by the Sichuan Antique Archaeology Academy and the Shaanxi Archaeology Institute set off to Yili at Bình Phước Province. The Vietnam side coordinated positively with the China side. The team could select excavating locations independently once the large area has been settled down. Eventually, after selecting and investigating for digging sites, the team selected Yili at the Bình Phước Province to excavate, and released four excavating units successively.

Chinese archaeology team’s work has been admitted by the National Museum of Vietnam during the excavation. Lei Yu, the leader of the team, head of the Sanxingdui Archaeological Workstation of the Sichuan Antique Archaeology Academy, recalled that the Luoyang shovel has played an important role and attracted the attention of the Vietnam archaeologists very much. It is the first time for the application of the Luoyang shovel at Vietnam. Our systematic methodology and theory that has been applied through the investigation, excavation, renovation and arrangement have also been well-represented during this excavation.

Gao Dalun said that they found very rich remains after working for around three months, particularly a number of objects that relate to the Sanxingdui culture. This excavation at Vietnam marks a good start of the transnational work of the Chinese archaeology, reminding us of the butterfly effect. In the near future, Chinese archaeology institutes will keep on working at Russia, Kenya, Laos, and other countries. Chinese archaeology is going onto the world stage step by step.

“As a leading power, China should exert influences not only on the economy, but also the culture. In some conditions, the culture should be the first point to cover. We should learn about other cultures at first if we want to communicate with other nations. Archaeology is one of the paths,” suggested by Gao Dalun. The nation should take a macro view to evaluate the transnational excavation by relating it to the national strategy and action. He also expressed his hope of training more students for excavating abroad.

Providing new clues for reconstruct the Southern Silk Road

The Phùng Nguyên site at Yili is well known in Vietnam. It was spanning from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age. The Phùng Nguyên culture was named after the excavation at Phùng Nguyên in 1959. More than 100 sites of the Phùng Nguyên culture have been found till now, with 70 of them have been excavated formally. Chinese scholarship on the Vietnam culture started relatively late, and focused mainly on its relationship with the south and southwest China.

The Chinese excavation at Yili concentrated on the southern part of the Yili Temple, and found 78 sites, 77 of which belongs to the Phùng Nguyên culture. Abundant stonewares, jades, hornworks, and pottery fragments have been found.

The research by the joint archaeology team reveals that the Yili site was built during the early to the middle period of the Phùng Nguyên culture. Its absolute date is considered to be 3500 to 3700 far away from now. Yili site shares similarities with sites found at Guangxi and the watershed of the Lancang River.

The team also mentioned that the Sanxingdui culture has exerted huge influence over surrounding areas, especially the Phùng Nguyên culture. Jade daggers, jade tablets, T-shaped jade rings, and jade discs found at Phùng Nguyên highly resemble the same type remains found in the Sanxingdui sites of the Upper Yangtze River in terms of their shapes, skills, as well as decorations.

This research also proves that the Southern Silk Road should have been the most convenient path linking Sichuan and Vietnam. The Southern Silk Road starts from Chengdu and goes southwards into two branches: the east and the west. The west road heads down south to Dali through the yak path, while the east arrives at Dali through the Wuchi path. Converging at Dali and passing via Baoshan and Tengchong, the two roads head toward the west to the Myitkyina at Cambodia, or arrives at Bhamo of Cambodia via Ruili. The eastern part of the foreign sections of the Southern Silk Road includes the Honghe path, which goes to Honghe from Sichuan through Yuanjiang of Yunnan, and the Zangke path which goes through Yelang and arrives at Fanyu (present Guangdong Province). The Zangke path facilitates the interaction between the southwest region and the southeast coastal areas.

According to the report, one can find a number of similarities among civilizations streching from Chengdu of Sichuan to the Southeast Asia, particularly the Vietnam. The most representative factor is the line-decorated potteries. During the Shang-Zhou period of China, in the region from the upper Yangtze River to the Southeast Asia, from the basin of the Anning River of the Liangshan Prefecture at Sichuan, to Xinguang and Baoshan of Yunnan, the Gantuoyan site of Guangxi, and the Phùng Nguyên culture of Vietnam, cultural interactions at various levels and scales have been flourished and thus enhanced the communication among different regions.

       This excavation provided inspirations for the reconstruction of the Southern Silk Road. Gao Dalun said that the following works will further enhance our understanding of the historical context of the cultural interaction between the Sanxingdui culture and Vietnam, and provide evidences for the construction of the Silk Road in a new era.






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