Another “Bronze Kingdom” in Sichuan: Yanyuan Bronze Civilization is the product of the intersection of North and South cultures

On June 18th, “Exploring the Ancient Civilization of Dingzhang and Cultivating the Consciousness of the Chinese Nation’s Community – The First Yanyuan Bronze Culture and the Exchange and Integration Academic Seminar of Various Ethnic Groups” was held in Yanyuan County, Liangshan Prefecture, Sichuan Province. Well-known experts in many fields, Scholars discussed the ancient civilization of Dingzhuo, represented by the Yanyuan bronze culture.Another "Bronze Kingdom" in Sichuan: Yanyuan Bronze Civilization is the product of the intersection of North and South cultures -Another-Bronze-Kingdom-in-Sichuan-Yanyuan-Bronze-Civilization-is-the

On June 18, “Exploring the Ancient Civilization of Dingzhang • Casting the Consciousness of the Community of the Chinese Nation – The First Yanyuan Bronze Culture and the Exchange and Integration Academic Seminar of Various Ethnic Groups” was held in Yanyuan County, Liangshan Prefecture, Sichuan.The pictures in this article are from Jinguan News

The Laolongtou Cemetery in Yanyuan County, Sichuan is located in Maojiaba Village, Shuanghe Township, about 7 kilometers northeast of Yanyuan County. Since 1987, the Chengdu Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, the Sichuan Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, the Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture Museum and the Yanyuan County Cultural Relics Administration have carried out four rescue excavations at the Laolongtou site. The fourth rescue excavation of the Laolongtou site in Yanyuan County began in April 2020. As of mid-June 2022, more than 1,100 tombs from the late Shang Dynasty to the early Western Han Dynasty had been cleared, and more than 5,000 pieces of various relics had been unearthed.

According to Tian Jianbo, head of the archaeological excavation site at the Yanyuan Laolongtou Site of the Chengdu Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, this excavation unearthed a number of relics with regional characteristics. The three-wheeled bronze carriage is also one of the earliest physical models of the three-wheeled carriage found in China, and the bronze chandeliers with various shapes and types highlight the unique belief and worship of the Yanyuan bronze culture.

Experts at the meeting believed that the important breakthroughs in the archaeology of the Laolongtou site in Yanyuan County in the past three years indicate that the regional center of Sichuan and Yunnan has been formed in the Bronze Age.

In order to better promote archaeological work and academic research, the Chengdu Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology and the Yanyuan County Government have decided to jointly build a Yanyuan Archaeological Workstation in the Yanyuan area. Wang Yi, deputy director of the Sichuan Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism and director of the Sichuan Provincial Cultural Relics Bureau, revealed that during the “14th Five-Year Plan” period, the Sichuan Provincial Cultural Relics Bureau will vigorously promote archaeological research in ethnic areas, especially the archaeological research on the Tibetan-Qiang-Yi ethnic corridor. Unprecedented efforts have been made to increase support for archaeology, research and utilization of cultural relics in the Yanyuan area, and lay a solid foundation for the deep integration of cultural relics and tourism resources.

The tombs are rich in remains and a wide variety of burials

According to reports, the burial methods of Yanyuan Laolongtou Cemetery, except for urn coffins, are all vertical pit tombs, all facing east and west, with the head facing west. A small number of secondary burials; burials with the body upright and upright are common, and a small number of burials with bent limbs and amputations; large and medium-sized tombs have coffins, small tombs with only coffins, and some tombs without coffin marks; different.

CIC learned that more than 5,000 relics (sets) were unearthed from 2020 to 2022, including nearly 2,000 pottery, more than 1,700 bronze, more than 100 iron, more than 20 gold and silver, nearly 700 stone, and 180 jade. There are more than 120 pieces of glassware, and more than 100 pieces of boneware (including shells). The pottery mainly consists of various types of double-eared jars, and there are also a small number of single-eared jars, high-necked jars, pots with flowing water, urns with milk nails, and ring-footed jars.

There are more kinds of bronze ware, mainly including weapons such as ge, sword, tomahawk, spear, arm and armor, tools such as knives, sharpeners, chisels, horse bits, danglu, horse horns, bells, horn-shaped ornaments, plaque ornaments and other horse equipment , decorative ceremonial utensils such as stick heads, branch-shaped ornaments, bird-shaped ornaments, and circular belt ornaments, as well as a small amount of textile tools such as weft knives and warp-rolling rods, weapons, horses, and tools are more common.Another "Bronze Kingdom" in Sichuan: Yanyuan Bronze Civilization is the product of the intersection of North and South cultures -1655572795_501_Another-Bronze-Kingdom-in-Sichuan-Yanyuan-Bronze-Civilization-is-the

The unveiling ceremony of “Yanyuan Archaeological Workstation of Chengdu Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology”.

It formed early and lasted for a long time, reappearing the unique Yanyuan bronze culture

At the seminar, Tian Jianbo believed that the Yanyuan Laolongtou site was formed early and lasted for a long time. According to the unearthed artifacts and the existing dating data, the tombs at the Laolongtou site can be preliminarily divided into three phases.

The first phase is from the Shang to the Western Zhou period, and the main body is the Western Zhou period. The shape of the tombs includes narrow rectangular earth-pit tombs and urn-coffin tombs. Most of the earth-pit and vertical tombs do not have wooden burials, and the bronze utensils in the burial utensils are extremely rare, with only a few arrowheads and so on. The unearthed pottery mainly includes milk nail urns, gui-style beans, jugs with flow, high-necked jars and small double-eared jars, and the types of unearthed utensils are relatively simple. In addition, stone tools such as knives, arrowheads, and Bianstone needles are also common.

The second period is the Spring and Autumn Period. The tombs are mainly rectangular pit tombs, and most of them have wooden burial tools. Burial objects are mainly bronze, pottery and stoneware. Bronze wares are mainly swords and ge, especially the sword with lion. The pottery is mainly small amphora and high-necked jars, and there are large amphora with the ears running from the mouth to the middle of the abdomen, and a small number of pots with flow. Among the stone tools, the perforated strip-shaped rubble and stone fan are more popular.

The third period is from the Warring States Period to the early Western Han Dynasty. The tombs include narrow rectangular vertical pit tombs and wide rectangular vertical pit tombs with capstones. The scale of the tombs shows obvious differentiation, all of them have wooden burial tools, and a few large tombs have coffins. The burial objects are mainly bronze, pottery, stone, glass, gold, etc., and the types are very rich. The size of the tombs and the amount of buried objects vary greatly, reflecting the obvious stratum differentiation, which is a major feature of the tombs of this period.

The M13 in the middle and late Warring States period is one of the largest and highest grade tombs in the tombs excavated this time. The tomb is 5.16 meters long, 3.69 to 4.01 meters wide, and 0.8 meters deep. The tomb was originally supposed to have two layers of capstones, one coffin and one coffin. 41 pieces of various utensils were unearthed in the tomb, most of which were placed on the coffin lid, among which there was a set of bronze textile tools, including a work-shaped device, a beating knife, a warp scroll, a cloth scroll, a warp stick and a waist support. Large painted amphora were also unearthed from the tomb. The combination of bronze textile tools and large painted amphora can only be found in the highest-level tombs of the Laolongtou cemetery, and the same combination is also found in M135. The tomb owners of these two tombs are very prominent in the Laolongtou cemetery and may belong to the ruling class of the Laolongtou ethnic group.

The tomb of a craftsman was discovered, revealing the mystery of the casting of Yanyuan bronzes

At the seminar, one of the focuses of the discussion was, where were the unique bronzes unearthed from the Laolongtou site cast? This has long been a mystery, and this excavation provides clues. In the Spring and Autumn period tomb M174, 10 sets of stone models were unearthed, as well as pottery ladle and pottery blower pipes that may have been used for copper smelting. Typical bronze wares, indicating that some of the bronze wares at the Laolongtou site were cast locally, and the owner of the tomb of M174 may be a bronze caster. The stone fan of M174 is common with one fan and multiple pieces, showing a relatively mature casting technology.

Tian Jianbo said that many tombs of casters similar to M174 were found in the Laolongtou cemetery, which were very rare in southwestern Sichuan before. The discovery fully reflects the role of the Salt Source Basin as a bridge in the cultural exchange between the North and the South in eastern Eurasia.

In addition to the tombs of the casters, several tombs of cinnabar artisans were also unearthed in the cemetery. Such tombs are generally buried with stone pestles and mortars for grinding cinnabar and other tools for grinding cinnabar, and their owners may be the craftsmen who grind cinnabar. Some of the tombs in the cemetery are covered with cinnabar at the bottom, reflecting the custom of cinnabar burial at that time, reflecting the popularity of the crowd.

It is worth noting that the bronze dendrons are the most characteristic bronze elements at the Laolongtou site, and the God of Two Horses is the most common theme of such bronze dendrons. In recent years, a number of new animal images have been discovered, such as pigs, deer, reptiles, etc. It is an important feature that separates the Yanyuan bronze culture from the surrounding bronze cultures, and also reflects the unique funeral customs and beliefs of the Laolongtou ethnic group.

Yanyuan Bronze Civilization is the product of the intersection of North and South cultures

According to reports, a large number of horse-related remains were also found at the Laolongtou site, mainly including sacrificial horses and harnesses, as well as carriages and bronze horses. The custom of sacrificing horses and harnesses for burial is more common in northern China and the Eurasian grasslands. The style of horses in the Yanyuan Basin shows a strong style of northern grassland culture. There are also small horse ornaments, bead ornaments and bronze mirrors with handles unearthed at the Laolongtou site, which are also marks of the influence of the northern grassland culture.

“The culture represented by Yanyuan bronze ware is the product of the intersection of northern and southern cultures. At that time, both western Yunnan and southwestern Sichuan reached the peak of the development of bronze culture. Many different cultures and tombs appeared in The Yanyuan Basin also shows the importance of this place. It is a good place to travel from south to north.” Sun Hua, director of the Academic Committee and professor of the School of Archaeology and Museology at Peking University, said when he was a guest at the seminar roundtable forum.

Sun Hua noticed that the bronze wares in Yanyuan included not only bronze drums common in the southwest, but also utensils with traditional craftsmanship from the north. Among them, the bronze drum unearthed in Yanyuan is simple in shape and simple in decoration. There is a sun pattern in the center of the drum surface, and there are four flying egrets around the sun pattern. “Seeing this bronze drum pattern, I think of the sun bird unearthed at the Jinsha site, that is, the four birds circling the sun with gold foil.” Sun Hua said.

Zhou Zhiqing, deputy director of the Chengdu Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology and the head of the archaeological project at the Laolongtou site, said that the Yanyuan Basin is an important node for cultural exchanges and population migration between the north and south of the eastern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and is also an important part of the Tibetan-Yi Corridor in ethnology. , the special geographical and cultural location makes the ancient culture in this area show the characteristics of diversity and complex.

The unique tomb shape and burial customs of the Laolongtou Cemetery, as well as the cultural relics with distinct era and regional characteristics, show the complex and diverse cultural connotations of the Yanyuan bronze culture, showing that it is a unique regional bronze culture in the southwest region.

Yanyuan bronze culture features strong diversity, which is influenced by multiple cultures such as Eurasian steppe bronze culture, northern China bronze culture, Xirong culture, Central Plains culture, Yunnan culture, western Yunnan bronze culture and even bronze culture in Southeast Asia.

The Yanyuan Laolongtou site highlights the unique, inclusive and diverse characteristics of the Yanyuan bronze culture, which enriches the pattern and cultural connotation of the Chinese civilization. The excavation of the Laolongtou site in Yanyuan has become a key key to the study of the intersection, integration and evolution of multiple civilizations in the eastern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and has extremely high academic value.

In addition, the archaeological results of the Laolongtou site have confirmed the history of exchanges and integration of various ethnic groups in the southwest, and provided an important case for “discovering China from the frontier”, enriching the integrity and commonality of Chinese history and culture.

(This article is from CIC, for more original information, please download the “CIC” APP)

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