New light shed on beginnings of Chinese civilization
Exquisite pottery discovered at the Nanzuo site in Qingyang, Gansu province. [Photo provided to China Daily]
Zhang Jingguo, a researcher at the Anhui institute and one of the first to excavate the site, said: "The variety and fragility of the jade unearthed at Lingjiatan has rarely been seen at other sites. It demonstrates the outstanding craftsmanship and rich spiritual world of those who lived there.
"These new findings further consolidate the site's landmark status in studying early civilizations. The site is key to unfolding the start to 5,000 years of Chinese civilization."
Zhang said jade dominated people's lives at Lingjiatan. In previous findings, huang shaped with tiger heads indicated a military alliance. Jade eagles adorned with sun-like designs showed that people worshipped celestial gods, while jade swabs could be clues to a fortune-telling ceremony.
"The emergence of a stratified society and ceremonial system marked an advance in social development. People nurtured emerging religions, and some social elites took on the role of communicating between the gods and humans. What we've seen at Lingjiatan depicts the dawn of a civilization," Zhang said.
Archaeological evidence shows that Lingjiatan Culture disappeared suddenly about 5,300 years ago.
Around the same time, a powerful jade-worshipping "regional state "rose in the Yangtze River Delta centered on the Liangzhu site in what is now Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, and which lasted for about 1,000 years. In 2019, the Archaeological Ruins of Liangzhu City were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Although there is still a lack of direct archaeological proof to link Lingjiatan and Liangzhu, Zhang believes there could have been close communications between people from the two cultures.
"They could have migrated from Lingjiatan along the Yangtze River to strongly influence the birth and development of Liangzhu Culture," he said.
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