The Eastern Zhou Sacrificial Pits at Xigao in Houma, Shanxi

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1 The Eastern Zhou Sacrificial Pits at Xigao in Houma, Shanxi Houma Archaeological Station of Shanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology Keywords: Xigao sacrificial pits jade Between the months of March and September in 200, while working on the Datong 大同 to Yuncheng 运城 Highway route, the Houma Archaeological Station of the Shanxi 山西 Provincial Institute of Archaeology discovered 733 Eastern Zhou period sacrificial pits in a district located on the terrace on the southern bank of the Fen River 汾河, 0.5 km southwest of Xigao 西高 Village in Houma 侯马 City. The Taishen 台神 walled site at Xinjiang 新绛 of the capital Jin is located 3 km to the east of Xigao site while the site of Siqi 祁 lies 3 km to the southeast. The Fen River valley runs along the north and west of the site. Xigao is 300 m from the north to the south, 400 m from the east to the west, and therefore covers a total area of about 20,000 sq m. Excavations took place in three areas: labeled I, II, and III. In area I, excavations exposed 242 pits in a,500 sq m area. Area II contained 07 pits in the 000 sq m area that was examined. An additional 384 pits were found in area III. I. Sacrificial Pits and the Burial of Sacrificial Animals The stratigraphic context of the site is quite simple. The openings of the various pits were discovered directly beneath modern plowzone, about 40 cm below the surface. Most pits were concentrated in dense clusters with the exception of a few pits that were scattered in random locations. Each of the clusters has a clear organizational structure of lines running north-south or east-west. Northsouth rows are more common than east-west ones. Among the 733 pits, only 20 have stratigraphic relationships with other pits. The pits are generally vertical shaft-pits that are rectangular in plan view. Some are rectangular with rounded corners, and a few are oval. They exhibit two types of profile: tubular and trapezoidal with smaller Volume 4 mouths than bottoms. The walls are straight and in most cases the bottoms of the pits are flat. A few pits have rounded bottoms or contain platforms. The excavations identified niches in the walls of 80 pits, most often in the north or west walls near the pit base. A few examples were found in the pit base itself. Three different size classes of pits can be distinguished. Ten percent of the pits fit into the large size category. These have lengths longer than.3 m and are between 3 m and 8 m deep. Usually large pits contain horses, occasionally they contain cattle, and rarely they contain sheep. Middle sized pits comprise 60% of the total. They are m in length and 3 m deep. Most of these contain sheep or nothing at all. A few contain cattle. The final 30% comprise small pits. This measures less than 0.8 m in length and between 0.5 m and.5 m in depth. Most contain no sacrificial animals although a few contain sheep bones. A total of 37 of the pits contain animal sacrifices. Of this total, 38 contain other artifacts as well while 79 do not. The remainders of the pits, 46 in all, do not contain animal sacrifices but 08 of these contain other objects. The other 308 do not contain anything. Most pits with animal sacrifices contain a single individual although a few contain two or more. The majority of sacrificial animals are sheep, horses are second most common, and cattle are the least numerous. The animal bones are laid out in a variety of arrangements that indicate the animals were placed in the pits in different positions including supine, on their side, prone, squatting, curled up, and scattered. Most likely, some sacrifices involved living animals and others involved animals that had been previously slaughtered.. Horse pits The following two examples are representative of the 03

2 N N cm 0 50 cm Fig. Plan and elevation of sacrificial pit J bronze loops 6. stone tablet Fig. 2 Plan and elevation of sacrificial pit J406. jade slip horse pits found at the site. J306 is rectangular in plan view with straight walls and a flat base. It is oriented at 350 degrees. The pit is.2 m long, 0.6 m wide and 2.5 m deep. One horse skeleton was deposited on its side at the base of this pit. Five bronze loops ornamented the head of this animal. A niche was discovered in the west wall of this pit 0.26 m wide, 0.07 m tall, and 0.09 m deep. A stone tablet was discovered in this niche (Fig. ). J406 is a pit that is rectangular in plan view but with rounded corners. The walls are slanted and the base is flat. The pit is oriented at 357 degrees. The mouth of this pit is bigger than its base. The mouth is.5 m long, 0.6 m wide and 4.8 m deep. One horse was discovered at the base of the pit lying in a supine position. A niche was dug into the northwest corner of the base of this pit,.3 m in length, 0. m in width, and 0.07 m deep. A jade slip was found in this niche (Fig. 2). 2. Cattle pits The following example is representative of the pits with cattle sacrifices. J775 is rectangular in plan view, 04 has slightly sloping walls, and a flat bottom. It is oriented at 342 degrees. The mouth of this pit is slightly larger than its base. It is about m long, 0.45 m wide and 2.9 m deep. A single bovine was placed in a supine position at the base of this pit. A niche was found on the west wall of this pit near the base that is 0.5 m long, 0. m tall, and 0. m deep. Two dragon shaped jade pendants were discovered in this niche (Fig. 3). 3. Sheep pits The following two examples represent the various sheep sacrifice pits. J402 is rectangular in plan view, has sloping walls, a flat base, and is oriented at 342 degrees. The mouth of the pit is larger than its base. The mouth is m long, 0.4 m wide, and. m deep. One sheep skeleton was found at the base of this pit in a supine position. A jade fragment was found in the southwest corner of this pit (Fig. 4). H573 is rectangular with rounded corners, sloping walls, a flat base, and an orientation of 350 degrees. The mouth, which is m long, 0.4 m wide, is Chinese Archaeology

3 N N 0 50 cm 0 50 cm Fig. 3 Plan and elevation of sacrificial pit J775. jade dragon-shaped pendants (2 pieces) Fig. 4 Plan and elevation of sacrificial pit J402. jade fragment larger than the base 28 m deep. A single sheep in a supine posture was found in this pit. II. Artifacts A total of 362 objects have been recovered from the sacrificial pits including objects made of jade, stone, bronze, shell, and bone. Usually each pit only contains a single object although some pits contain two or more. In all cases where the pit contains a niche, the objects were found in the niche. In the pits, the objects were typically found in the north or in the center of the pit base. The majority of artifacts are made of jade; bronze is second most common; stone, bone and shell objects are relatively rare.. Jade objects A total of 256 objects made of jade have been recovered from the pits. Of these, 63 are unfinished objects including both jade flakes and jade chunks, most of which have incision marks on their surface. The various finished objects include dragon-shaped pendants, bi-disks 璧, yuan cm Fig. 5 Jade dragon-shaped pendants. J564: 2. J495: 3. J643: 2 Volume 4 05

4 Fig. 6 Jade dragon-shaped pendants (J564) Fig. 7 Jade dragon-shaped pendants (J643) Fig. 8 Jade dragon-shaped pendants (J495) disks 瑗 with large holes, huan-loops 环, sword ornaments, finger rings, tubes, columns, belt hooks, jade figurines, hinge shaped objects 合页形器. The most common of these is the dragon-shaped pendant. Most jade objects do not have any surface treatment. Other decorations include simplified dragon designs, grain designs, cloud designs, knotted-thread designs, diagonal-line designs, check- 06 marking, etc.. The production techniques for these motifs include incision, carving, polishing, and boring. The incision styles include intaglio, bass-relief, round-chiseling, and penetration. Dragon-shaped pendants are the most common of the jade artifact types. Thirty separate examples have been discovered. Here we describe 0 typical examples. Chinese Archaeology

5 cm Fig. 9 Jade objects. dragon-shaped pendant (J47) 2. jade human figurine (J730) 3, 4. dragon-shaped pendants (J55, J445) 5. belt hook (J38) 6, 7. dragon-shaped pendants (J44, J87) Two were discovered in pit J564. Both are identical in shape and decoration, but they differ slightly in size. They are 24.3 cm and 24.6 cm long respectively (Figs. 5: ; 6). J643 found two pieces. They differ slightly in shape, decoration, and size. They are carved with grain designs on both sides. They are 8.4 cm and 8.6 cm long respectively (Figs. 5:3; 7). J495 has two pieces. Both are same in shape and decoration. They differ slightly in size. One side decorated with grain designs. They are 9 cm and 8.2 cm long respectively (Figs. 5:2; 8). J47 is yellowish-brown in color, cloud designs on one side, and 8.3 cm long (Figs. 9:; 0). J44 is greenish-gray in color, grain designs on one side, 0 cm long (Figs. 9:6; ). J87 is greenish-gray in color, cloud designs on both sides, 0 cm long (Fig. 9:7). J95 is greenish-gray in color. Its shape and decoration is identical with J87. It is 0 cm long (Fig. 2). J55 is grayish-white in color, stylized dragon designs on both sides, 9.5 cm long (Figs. 9:3; 3). J445 has two pieces. They are identical in shape, decoration, and size. They have knotted-thread designs on both sides. They are 8.3 cm long (Figs. 9:4; 4). J56 has two pieces. Both are identical in shape and size. They are greenish-gray in color and undecorated, 8. cm long (Fig. 5). Volume 4 Bi-disks are fewer in number. We can take two examples as typical of the form. The first is a green jade disk from pit J405. It is incompletely executed and undecorated. The diameter of the disk is 9. cm. A second example is the green jade disk from J77. It has an outline and two attached dragons. Its diameter is 3.3 cm (Fig. 6). Larger jade disks are somewhat more common. One example of this type was found in pit J248. It is greenishblack in color. Both sides are decorated by bass-relief grain decoration. This disk has a diameter of 2.2 cm. The disk from J626 is light-green jade and has a similar decoration to the first. Its diameter is 0.5 cm. Two huan-loops have been found. Their style and size are identical. Both are made of greenish-gray stone. They are oval in profile and decorated by an intaglio knottedrope design. They are 3.9 cm in diameter (Fig. 7). Few semi-circular jade huang-pendants have been discovered. Two were found together in pit J294. Both are identical in size and shape and both are made of a greenish-gray stone. Tooth shaped decorations are found on either end of the ornaments. They are undecorated and 7.9 cm long (Fig. 8). A single hinge shape jade was found in pit J

6 Fig. 0 Jade dragon-shaped pendant (J47) Fig. Jade dragon-shaped pendant (J44) Fig. 2 Jade dragon-shaped pendant (J95) Fig. 3 Jade dragon-shaped pendant (J55) Fig. 4 Jade dragon-shaped pendant (J445) Fig. 5 Jade dragon-shaped pendant (J56) It is made of white jade and comprises a design of two complete dragons that come together the juncture of two loops. They can be separated. The object has no surface treatment. It is 0.8 cm long (Fig. 9). One jade figurine was discovered in pit J730. It is formed of a white jade and is a figurine of a standing human wearing a hat and a robe with gathered sleeves and covered with a grid pattern in intaglio lines. It is 2.9 cm tall (Fig. 9:2). 08 In addition to the above mentioned objects, two tubes, a finger ring, a column, a belt hook (Fig. 9:5), and an ornament in the shape of a long bar, and sword ornaments, all of jade, were also found in the pits. 2. Bronzes Two types were discovered: huan-loops and bronze belt-hook. Around 00 loops were found, all in conjunction with horse heads in sets of one to six. Only one bronze belt hook has been located. Chinese Archaeology

7 Fig. 6 Jade bi-disk (J77) Fig. 7 Jade huan-loops (J57) Fig. 8 Jade huang-pendant (J294) Fig. 9 Jade hinge-shaped ornament (J779) 3. Lithics Few lithic objects were discovered. These include nicely executed writing tablets, zhang-tablets 璋, and gui-tablets 圭. III. Conclusion In the area around Xinjiang, the capital of State Jin in Houma City, ten locations were previously known to be places where sacrificial pits were located. The new discoveries at Xigao are the eleventh such site. Altogether these sites comprise nearly 5,000 separate sacrificial pits. These clearly relate to the statement found in the Second Year of Wen Gong Chapter of the Zuo Zhuan 左传 that reads Ritual is a major affair of states. There are differences between the discoveries at Xigao and those at other sites. For example, at Xigao horses and cattle make up a larger proportion of the victims and large numbers of fine jade objects have been found at this site, a situation that differentiates Xigao from the other locales. Since we do not yet have evidence that allow for the exact dating of the site, we can only base its chronology Volume 4 on the artifacts found within the pits. The various aspects of the Xigao site, including the shape of the pits, their overall distribution, the nature of the stratigraphy, the burial of sheep, horses, and cattle, are all similar to those of the previously known sacrificial pit sites. The artifacts and style of burial are also relatively similar. Due to these similarities we can assert that the pits at Xigao are basically contemporaneous with those at the other similar sites. They should be Eastern Zhou in date and the ritual practitioners might have been aristocrats from the State Jin. We can further conjecture that the character of the Xigao sacrifices and the objects of sacrifice are related to the Taitai 台骀 spirit of the Fen River. The Zhao Gong, Year chapter of the Zuo Zhuan records Formerly, the Jintian shi 金天氏 gave birth to a son named Mei 昧 who became a spirit in the underworld and gave birth to Yunge 允格 and Taitai. Taitai is the spirit that created palaces and drained the Fen 汾 and Tao 洮 Rivers. Furthermore, the sacrifices at Xigao took place on the terrace overlooking the south bank of the Fen River, in the village currently called Taishen Village. The temple of Taitai is in the vicinity. 09

8 This is good evidence of the connection to this classical text. The discovery of sacrificial pits at Xigao is an extremely important advance in our knowledge of the religious activity of the Jin State. The artifacts recovered from the site are numerous, varied, and include many types that were previously unknown. This is especially true about the jade items. Their forms are varied and finely executed, and were created by highly skilled specialists. These data are particularly valuable for the insight they may provide about the techniques and artistry of Jin State jade production. Note: The original report was published in Wenwu 文物 :8 36 with 47 figures and written by Wang Jinping 王金平 and Xie Yaoting 谢尧亭. The present version, an abridgment from the original, is prepared by the original authors and English-translated by Rowan Flad 付罗文. 0 Chinese Archaeology