Hamin site (Chine) : a prehistory settlement in the Horqin District, Inner Mongolia

New discovery at the Hamin site, a prehistory settlement in the Horqin District, Inner Mongolia

Institute of Archaeology

Source -http://www.kaogu.cn/en/detail.asp?ProductID=3251


The Hamin site is located 15 km southeast away from Shebotu town, Kezuozhongqi banner, Tongliao city in Inner Mongolia, which is the center of the Horqin Grassland. This site covers over 17 ha.
During May to September, 2010, the joint archaeology team consisting of the Inner Mongolia Institute of Archaeology and the Kezuozhongqi banner Cultural Relic administration, carried out an investigation along railway and found the Hamin site, in order to cooperate the infrastructure construction. Then in 2011, the Inner Mongolia Institute of Archaeology and the Frontier Archaeology Center of Jilin University, carried out a large-scale scientific archaeological excavation in area of the Hamin site.


After two years, over 4000 square meter area was excavated and disclosed 43 residential ruins, 6 tombs, 33 ash pits and 1 ring trench. Moreover, there were about a thousand pieces of exquisite artefacts unearthed, including potteries, lithic, bone, shell and jade, etc. In particular, almost complete roof wooden constructions were found in 7 house ruins, which re-appeared the frame construction of the semi-subterranean buildings during the Neolithic period. This is extremely rare in the prehistory archaeology in China. In addition, lots of human bones remains rambling stacked were discovered in other resident ruins. Particularly, there were 97 sets of human bones discovered in a resident ruins, reflecting the life situation at that time. It is significant and supplies important materials for further studying the social structure, political relationship and life style of the original inhabitants in Hamin site during the Neolithic period.

The plane of the resident ruins at the Hamin site was laid out in rows or groups and generally distributed in northeast-southwest direction. The doors of the resident ruins faced to the same direction, which is southeast, so they were arranged neatly. The residents were semi-subterranean type in a “凸”-shape plane, and had rectangle doorway and round hearth. The planes of the house were mostly rounded square or rounded rectangle. The houses were 10-40 square meter in sizes and with nearly upright walls, which only 0.1-0.9 m height remained. The doorways were mostly groove type and slope in shape, and the doors faced to 130° to 140°. The hearth was located in the middle-south of the resident room and mostly round in shape. Moreover the hearth had slope walls and flat bottom, and contained a large number of ashes and burned animal bone shards. The floor and the walls of the residents were mostly burned red-brown. In addition, a few post-holes were found on the floor. Plenty of artefacts were scattered on the floors, including tools for production and the articles for daily use, and decoration etc. The articles for daily use were mostly potteries, including jars, kettles, basins and bowls, etc. The tools for production were usually lithic artefacts, including millstones, grinding clubs, axes, adzes, chisels, pestles, hoes, balls and other practical ones. The ornaments were mostly bones, shells and exquisite jades. 

There were seven houses which were burned so that the roof wooden frame structures were remained partly or entirely. The result of excavation showed that the roofs consisted of purlins, rafters which tied up or buckled and then formed the beam type roof in slope shape. In addition, there were three strange house ruins from which a large number of human bone remains were unearthed and these human bones were scattered, destroyed and burned. Among the human bones, there were 97 sets identified and unearthed from F40 house ruins but parts of the human bones had traces of burned. After the authentication on site, the human bones were mostly of women and children.
There were only 6 tombs discovered and scattered between the resident ruins. Except that tomb M3 was found within the F11 resident ruin, other tombs were all pit tombs. Tomb M6 was round pit tomb, and the others were all rectangle shallow pit tombs. Moreover, the burial customs were single burials in supine position with limbs stacked, except the M6 was three persons burial in contracted supine position. In addition, there was almost not any grave good accompanying.

There were a few ash pits discovered at the Hamin site and they were round, oval, rounded square and irregular in shape. The pits mostly had flat or round bottom and only less artefacts were unearthed, including pottery shards, animal bones and shells, etc.
Judged by the results of drilling and exploratory trench, the trend and shape of the ring trench in the north district of the Hamin site was preliminarily confirmed. The ring trench was 350m long in east-west and 270m wide in north-south, and was an oval closed ring trench of a settlement. Moreover, the ring trench was trapezoid in the vertical section. In addition, the trench was 0.6-0.8 m deep and 1.2-2.1 m wide. The filler in the trench was dark brown loose piebald soil, which contained less pottery, animal bones, shells and human bones etc.



The pottery containers were mostly cylindric-shaped jars, kettles, bowls and basins, which were decorated with pock-pattern, and most of them appeared in groups. Moreover, there were a few Y-shaped artefacts, pottery cakes, painted pottery shards, etc. The majority of the potteries were made from sandy clay and a few from mud clay. The mud and sandy potteries were only found in small quantity and all of them were hard. In addition, a small number of painted pottery shards appeared in the red clay potteries. The patterns appeared at the Hamin site were black painted with transverse strip and curve triangle pattern.

The lithic artefacts unearthed at the Hamin site were mostly lithic tools and were made by chipping and grinding methods. The types included grinding stones, grinding clubs, axes, adzes, chisels, choppers, ring-shaped tools, pestles, arrowheads and blades, etc. The materials mostly were quartzite, quart sand stone, andesite, siliceous limb stone, flint, agate, jade, etc. According to the combination of the production tools, the ancestors at the Hamin site may have mostly carried out agriculture but fishing and hunting at the same time.

The bone and shell artefacts at the Hamin site were tools for production but mostly ornaments, including drillings, needles, arrowheads, spoons, knives and pendants. These artefacts also supplied some information about natural environment and ancient climate for us.
Jades only appeared in a few resident ruins and one of the resident ruins, F37, unearthed rounded rectangle and round jade bi-disk, double-joined bi-disk, jade ring, yue axes and pedents, etc.

The Hamin site is dated to 5500 BP. Its large scale, well-preserved, complex phenomenon and rich unearthed artefacts, is extremely rare in the prehistory archaeology in the entire northeast area, particularly those remained roof wooden structure, scattered human bones in the resident ruins, its potteries with pock-pattern, lithic, bones, shell artefacts and exquisite jades, etc, supplied important materials for studying the house structure, economic life, pottery technology, religional customs during the Neolithic period.    (Translator: Zhai Shaodong)