Here at the Yangshao project we normally post in Swedish but as the Four stone hearth blogfestival is hosted by Testiomony of the spade we’ll sign a post in English.The project started in 2003 by Johan Klange and Magnus Reuterdahl, then students at Stockholm University. Thanks to the project we’ve been fortunate to be able to travel on two research trips to China, the first in early 2006 and the last in spring of 2007. One of the things that made us concentrate on the Yangshao culture was the fact that a Swede discovered it in the 1920’s; Johan Gunnar Andersson. His collection later became the foundation for the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities in Stockholm.
Photos: From left to right: Painted pottery from the Yangshao site Banpo in Xi’an, Johan, Anders & Jan in the alley where famous Swedish archaeologist Johan Gunnar Andersson lived when he worked in Beijing in the 20’s and the entrance to the Yangshao site museum at Dahecun in Zhengzhou.
Our aim is to improve the knowledge about Chinese archaeology in general and the Neolithic Yangshao culture in general. We also work, with the department of archaeology at Stockholm University, to establish student- and research exchange with China through the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).
There are a lot of things to gain by studying other cultures, foremost ones preconceptions falls and one has to start on a blank page. This does not mean that gained knowledge is useless but one is forced to see things in a different light due to other contexts and finds. This can give a lot concerning use of techniques and new ideas, but also in seeing find from a different angle.
During our last trip we were four persons, besides Johan and me we had two professors from the department of archaeology accompanied us: Anders Andrén professor in Archaeology and phD Jan Storå from the Osteological research laboratory. When traveling together with other researchers there are several opportunities to learn new things a see things from other perspectives than only your own, through discussing and shared experiences.
At our last journey we saw several remarkable sites and finds, I thought that should present just a few of them:
As we visited an ancient city wall outside of Beijing we found a grave field that was in use. If you compare this with the mound grave fields from late Iron Age in Sweden a lot of ideas pops up, at least in my mind, such as: Why are certain mounds larger than others? On the top of the mounds there are pieces of paper placed under a few small stones; how much of the original grave ritual does still exist after 10, 100 or a 1000 years? How much information is forever lost for us? Well some things we find, some we don’t and still we interpret.
Photos: From left to right: The two photos to the left are from the Chinese contemporary gravefield outside of Beijing and the photo to the right is from Sweden (Småland) and the grave field Kånna högar (the mounds at Kånna), raa 24:1.
Another amazing experience was a visit to an archaeological excavation outside of Luoyang, where we could experience the forbidden city of the ancient city of Luoyang. That was quite a might feeling to stand within an imperial city from the eastern Han dynasty (ca 0-200 AD) while excavated.
On this blog there are a few posts written in English before, an information page in English about the project, a background article for the first trip in 2006 and a research plan for the same trip. When you read the article and the researchplan, please bear in mind that we have revised several ideas and got answers for a lot of questions during this first trip. Among other things we realized that the idea concerning the fossilized eggs was a shot in the dark.
Magnus Reuterdahl the Yangshao project