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HomeDatabasePH.D & MA thesis
A Study on Archaeological Cultures of the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau from 400BC to AD100
From:Chinese Archaeology  Writer:Yang Yong  Date:2011-08-24

Abstract:Located in the Southwestern frontier of China, Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau is characterized by its special environment and multiple ethnic groups, and has had a very special regional culture for a long period of time. The Warring States Period and the Qin-Han Dynasty was an important turning point in the local history. During this period, the bronze culture created by Southwestern barbarians was thriving, and at the same time, under the Qin and Han Empires’ expansion the region was colonized last and integrated as regional political units controlled by the central empire. This process resulted in great changes to local society and culture. Therefore the archaeological study of the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau during the Warring States Period and the Qin-Han Dynasty holds an important meaning for constructing regional history, the formation and development of multi-ethnic China, and the expansion of Han culture.
Due to the limitations of historical documents, the exploration of the history and culture in the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau during the Warring States Period and the Qin-Han Dynasty primarily depends on the archaeological excavation and research. Since the 1950s, a number of sites dating to the Warring States Period and the Qin-Han Dynasty have been found, but most of them are burials. Based on archaeological evidence, this dissertation conducted a comprehensive study on the archaeological cultures in the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau from the Warring States Period to the Qin-Han Dynasty. The author discusses separately the local native bronze cultures and Han culture, then focuses on the relationship between those cultures for constructing the dynamic relationship between natives and migrates.
Based on the archaeological materials and related characters of relics, the native bronze culture of the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau during the Warring States Period and the Qin-Han Dynasty can be divided into 9 sub-areas: East Guizhou, Northwest Guizhou, Southwest Guizhou, Zhaolu Basin, Dian Lake, East Yunnan Highlands, West Yunnan Highlands, Henduan Mountains, and Southeast Yunnan. In theses areas, we can indentify the Kele Culture in Northwest Guizhou, a regional culture presented by the Tonggushan site in Southwest Guizhou, the Yingzitan Culture and the Hongyinpan type in the Zhaolu Basin, the Dian culture around Dian Lake, the Batatai Culture and the Dian culture in the East Yunnan highlands, the Wanjiaba culture and the Dabona type and slab burials in the West Yunnan Plateau, the Aofengshan type, Fengganglin type and Potoucun type in the Hengduan Mountains. East Guizhou and Southeast Yunnan have very little archaeological evidence, but presents very obvious local character. All these native cultures of the Bronze Age can be dated roughly from the late Warring States to early Eastern Han, but western Han is prevalent, very few of them can be dated back to the middle Warring States. Wudi’s conquer of Xinanyi (Southwestern Barbarians) is the important turning point of local bronze culture. Generally, native bronze culture presented a complex image involving multiple types, which in accordance with Shiji, recorded that there are dozens or hundreds chivies of southwestern Barbarians.
During the Han Dynasty, the archaeological evidence of the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau is mostly derived from burials. The type of burials coexisted with the native bronze cultures are pit-graves, distributed in western Guizhou (with large numbers) and eastern Yunnan. As seen from the grave goods and burial customs, these burials were basically constructed by the Han Burial style, and also have its regional character, which shed light for reconstructing the social development of early Han migrates in the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau.
During the Warring States Period and the Qin-Han Dynasty, a series social changes and culture transformations can be detected from archaeological evidence. Before the middle Han dynasty, local native bronze culture was kept isolated to some degree from outside world. Followed by conquer of Xinanyi by Han Wudi, the local structures and systems were reformed into an unstained state for an extended period of time. By interacting with the Han people and culture, the local ethnic groups of southwestern China experienced significant developments in material culture and technology. However, we also witnessed that local ethnic groups experienced a stable state in social structure and ideology, no obvious changes happened before the collapse of local bronze culture, even during the Han period. Therefore, the author believes the Han Empire contributed to the advancement of the local society, economy, and cultural. Conversly, the social and culture changes of the native ethnic groups is a complicated process, which cannot be merely reduced down to the “Han assimilation”. Furthermore, the early development of Han culture in the Yunnan-Guizhou plateau, interestingly, presented some localized trends; this reflected the interaction with local cultures and ecological enviroment, and also special historical backgrounds.


Keywords: Warring States Period and Qin-Han Dynasty, Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau, Archae-ological Culture, Southwestern Barbarians, Social Culture Transformation

 
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