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HomeDatabasePH.D & MA thesis
A Research on Guangxi's Big Stone Shovel
From:Chinese Archaeology  Writer:  Date:2010-07-02

By Yang Rui(MA)      Supervisor:Chen xingcan  Fu Xianguo

Abstract
Big stone shovels were thin, huge and angular. They were very important artifacts in prehistoric Lingnan district, even in Southeast Asia, due to their unique shape, superior processing methods and symbolic meaning. Because their most concentrated distribution was in the intersection area of Zuo river and You river, which located in the south of Guangxi, so many scholars called "Gui Nan big stone shovel." In this paper, Based on published information and study the big stone shovel in Guangxi in person, combined with academic research results before, this article trying to explore the origin and the evolution of type, nature and function, chronology, distribution and dissemination, production and technology, of big stone shovels, and also the relationship between the big stone shovels and prehistoric Guangxi.
 
This paper argues that the origin of stone shovel was because ancestors had high enthusiasm to improve the bi~shoulder stone tools. To meet the thorn soil, tilling the soil's needs, our ancestors amplified the bi~shoulders axes, which became the prototype of big stone shovels. However, most of the big stone shovels did not apply in the practical way, it was their symbolic meaning made them thriving. The initial type of big stone shovels, type Ⅰof big stone shovel were very similar; until the type Ⅱbig stone shovels came out of shape yoke of bi~shoulders stone tools, to develop their own style character; experiencing the technological innovation after type Ⅲ, type Ⅳ big stone shovel reached the peak of manufacturing technology and process of stone tools in Lingnan region. Subsequently, the big stone shovels began to decline, in their late types, their style was rough and processing was random. From the rise to the recession process, there is always two kinds of style of big stone shovels, that is, the wide and narrow shape modeling.

The initial type of big stone shovels used to be practical tools, but later, because of its shape and materials changed, their purpose turned into worship. By examining the big stone shovels’ sites in the center zone: The Wall of pits, which stored big stone shovel, was processed and there were even signs of fire; their ordered shapes and stratified storage discovered in the pits, big stone shovels’ site could be determined as a special place to worship. The sacrificial ritual is: first, choose a place of worship, then according to different needs dig for the different kinds of pits; then, some of pits to burn, and finally put into the stone shovel. By combining the worship of stone shovel their reproductive function and their method of burial, can be judged, big stone shovels site is a place to worship Mother Earth.

Because very few big stone shovels can be found with pottery, and stone tools which can help with dating, so the chronology of big stone shovels had been a challenge for a long time. Nevertheless, such as Duliao sites, Nayao site, and Nongshan sites can help with dating because big stone shovels were dig out with pottery and stone tools which helped to judge the big stone shovels’ sites’ relative date was Late Neolithic. The combination of big stone shovel sites and other sites of the absolute date, it could determine the absolute date of the big stone shovels’ sites of range of 4000 ~ 6000 years ago. That is, the main date of big stone shovels were 4000 ~ 6000 years in the late Neolithic.

Sites distribution of big stone shovel was most concentrated in the intersection area of Zuo river and You river, the scope of its spread in other parts of Guangxi and western Guangdong, eastern Guangdong, Hainan and northern Vietnam and other places. In addition to the 120 found in Guangxi, found 15 in Guangdong, 8 in Hainan, 13 in Vietnam, the total number of the sites will be 160 around. Specific to each type of distribution, the distribution of type Ⅰwas small, only around the central area; type Ⅱ were most widely distributed in the range of the big stone shovel distribution; type Ⅲ was confined to the central area; Ⅳ type distribution was also wide, east to western of Guangdong and north to Liuzhou, southwest up to northeast coast of Vietnam. Place away from the center had seen exactly the same shape big stone shovels as they were in the center, it should be the result of cultural transmission. Big stone shovels’ ritual function perfectly meet the needs of the local inhabitants who wanted to worship. Way of their dissemination was done through the trade mode. In the rugged terrain of Guangxi, the spread of prehistoric cultures done mainly by the river, big stone shovels’ trade channel was exactly the complex water transportation network in Guangxi. To sum up, the main transmission lines are three: first, Eastern line. Traders along the Yongjiang, Yujiang, Qianjiang, Hongshuihe, Liujiang, Xun Jiang, Xijiang and other rivers brought big stone shovels to western and eastern Guangdong, southeastern Guangxi, Hainan; second, the Northwest Line. The spread of the culture was basically done by the You river, which reached Lingyun for the most distant place; third, Southwest line. Big stone shovels along the Zuo river, Lijiang, shuikou river and qiqiong river into northern Vietnam, which went as far as the north~east coast of Vietnam, Cat Ba Island.

Big stone shovels were the masterpieces of stone manufacturing in Lingnan district even in southeast of Asia. And of course the process of that was complicated. Luckily, the Longan Dingchuling site provided the precious materials to make the process clear. From which we can see, there will be five stages in processing the big stone shovel: stone quarrying, Zhuo beating, cutting, grinding and polishing. Among them, the quarrying of stone was best to find lower hardness stones, basically, shale and slate,, and there should get a good sheet development; Zhuo beating on the rocks are not only requires craftsman master the outlines of a big stone shovel, also called craftsmen had good  processing technology; cutting was mainly using the blades of quartz to complete; grind can divide into coarse and fine grinding; only a few number of big stone shovels were polished and it was more common that only part of the surface was polished, not all of it. The equipment to do that should be the river grave which had very smooth surface. Big stone shovels’ production had attributes like: exclusive production, professionalism and large scale, which suggesting that the production of big stone shovel was already specialized.
 Prehistoric Southern Guangxi region had the only tools to worship, that was big stone shovel, which had a special social status and could reflect the spiritual world of ancestors and their social relations. First, they reflected the flourishing of ritual in Guinan region. Expressed as the widespread of big stone shovels’ site, the grand scale worship, and unified ritual concept. Secondly, the big stone shovels reflected the social hierarchies in two ways. First, the specialized production stone shovel suggest the existence of lead class、craftsmen class and normal class. Secondly, may also reflect that during the ritual ceremony, there were shaman class and other class. A civil society of Guinan district was about to come.

 

 
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