In northern China, archaeologists excavate Liangchengzhen, a late prehistoric settlement that dates from the Longshan period (2600-2001 B.C.). The view shown here is facing east. The foundation of a house, one of several uncovered during excavation of the site, is visible in the foreground. [Image 2 of 3 related images. See Image 3.]
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In 2000, the National Science Foundation awarded a grant (BCS 99-11128) to Anne P. Underhill of The Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, Ill., for regional archaeological survey and excavation at the Liangchengzhen site, located near the modern city of Rizhao, Shandong Province, China.
Archaeologists first excavated Liangchengzhen in 1936, and dated it to the Longshan period based on items recovered there, including jade and pottery vessels. During this period in northern China, towns developed and social stratification increased. Underhill and her collaborators wanted to assess the size of the site and determine whether it was larger than other contemporary settlements in the Rizhao area.
Together with Chinese collaborators, Underhill conducted archaeological fieldwork at the site over two seasons. An initial season of test excavation at the site unexpectedly revealed what appeared to be houses built on platforms within the walled settlement, suggesting the possibility that differences in social status may have been in place early in the center's occupational history.
Data collected thus far has allowed Underhill to examine the nature and extent of diachronic variation in housing, subsistence and diet, craft production and patterns of consumption. Underhill continues to survey and analyze excavated materials today and is working on several publications, including a monograph on the excavation. Work on this project was performed in collaboration with Shandong University (Jinan City, Shandong Province) Professors Cai Fengshu, Yu Haiguang, Luan Fengshi and Fang Hui. (Year of image: 2000)