Archaeology of China
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The archaeology of China is researched intensively in the universities of the region and also attracts considerable international interest on account of the region's civilizations.
The application of scientific archaeology to Chinese sites began in 1921, when Johan Gunnar Andersson first excavated the Yangshao Village sites in Henan. Excavations from 1928 at Anyang, also in northern Henan, by the newly formed Academia Sinica by anthropologist Li Ji uncovered a literate civilization identified with the late stages of the Shang dynasty of early Chinese records. Earlier cities in northern Henan were discovered at Zhengzhou in 1952 and Erlitou in 1959. More recently prehistoric cities such as Panlongcheng and Sanxingdui have been discovered in other parts of China.
Beginning in the Song dynasty (960-1279), many members of the Chinese gentry began to pursue antiquarian hobbies such as art collection, leading to scholar-officials retrieving several ancient relics from archaeological sites, such as ancient ceremonial vessels that were then used in state rituals. Scholar-officials claimed to have discovered ancient bronze vessels that were created and used during the Shang dynasty (1600-1046 BCE) due to the fact that they contained Shang era characters. Although romanticism abounded around these artifacts (including imaginative recreations by scholar-officials that were not based on proper evidence), the fanciful nature of the antiquarian pursuit was heavily criticized by Shen Kuo in his Dream Pool Essays. Shen objected to the notion that the vessels were created by famous "sages" or ancient aristrocrats, correctly observing that the artifacts were more likely made by ancient artisans or commoners from previous eras. Shen also believed that the antiquarian pursuit of archaeology simply to enhance state ritual was frivolous, as he was far more in favor of an interdisciplinary approach to the study of archaeology and emphasized the study of functionality and process of manufacture for artifacts.
In the 20th century, archaeologists made tens of thousands of discoveries in China. In 2001, the Institute of Archaeology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences organized a poll of experts who selected China's 100 major archaeological discoveries in the 20th century, with Yinxu receiving the most votes.
One of the archaeological discoveries of China is a Guanyindong Palaeolithic cave site, discovered in 1964 by archaeologist Pei Wenzhong in Qianxi County, Guizhou. During several archaeological excavations in the 1960s and 1970s, most of the material remains were gathered from the cave entrance. About one-third of the artifacts were extracted from the upper layer which is called "Layer 2" or "Group A" by archaeologist Prof. Li Yanxian, and the rest of them were collected from the lower layers- "Layers 4–8" or "Group B". According to Associate Professor Bo Li, besides several non-Levallois flakes, archaeologists examined more than 2000 stone artifacts from Guanyindong and revealed proof of Levallois concepts on 45 samples (including cores, flakes and tools). It contains the earliest evidence of stone artefacts made using the Levallois technique in China. In November 2018, the discovery of these stones dated to approximately 170,000-80,000 years ago were announced by the University of Wollongong.
A number of Chinese artifacts dating from the Tang dynasty and Song dynasty, some of which had been owned by Emperor Zhenzong were excavated and then came into the hands of the Kuomintang Muslim General Ma Hongkui, who refused to publicize the findings. Among the artifacts were a white marble tablet from the Tang dynasty, gold nails, and bands made out of metal. It was not until after Ma died, that his wife went to Taiwan in 1971 from America to bring the artifacts to Chiang Kai-shek, who turned them over to the Taipei National Palace Museum.
What were identified as the oldest-known noodles were found in an earthen bowl at the 4,000-year-old site of Lajia on the Yellow River in China. The noodles, discovered by Ye Maolin of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and analyzed by Lu Houyuan of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and colleagues, were 50 cm long and had been made with two strains of millet.
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