by Yinpo Tschang
The existence of Shang as a material culture and as a political entity is no longer in doubt, following the archaeological excavations of the 20th century. But the source of this material culture has yet to be found. This issue is debated among scholars. Surprisingly, the exact nature of the material culture of Shang itself is an unsettled question.
Section 1: Spatial Distribution of Neolithic Cultures
Webmaster's note. This article uses "Puutonghuah Pinyin." Here is the author's explanation:
"Puutonghuah Pinyin is a natural extension of Hanyu Pinyin. All the rules of Hanyu Pinyin apply except: The second tone is spelled out by the addition of a letter l immediately after the vowel. The third tone is spelled out by a repeated vowel. The fourth tone is spelled out by a letter h immediately after the vowel. In a diphthong, tone modification applies to the trailing vowel. In simpler cases, the light tone is indicated by omitting the vowel. The umlaut ü is spelled yu. The apostrophe as a concatenation symbol is replaced by the letter x. For example, 翩 is pian, 駢 pialn, 諞 piaan, 騙 piahn, 哈爾濱片子 Harbin pianz, 西安 Xixan, 先 xian."
Pottery unearthed at Ehrliigang, which has been established as an early Shang site, can be divided into six groups, according to Chelng Pilngshan. Group A can be identified with the Zhanghel-Xiahqiyualn culture to the northeast. Group B can be associated with the Ehrliitoul culture to the west. Group C is native to Zhehngzhou. Group D can be identified with the Yuehshil culture to the east. Group E is linked to the Huiweih culture to the north. Group F is linked to a pottery tradition in the south. Among the six, B-A-C were found in large quantities. There is indication that group C was patterned after B and A, and is most representative of the material culture of Ehrliigang.
According to Chelng, if Walng Guolweil, Ding Shan and others were right, the precursor of the material culture known as Ehrliigang should have been formed to the north of Zhehngzhou in southern Helbeii, northern or eastern Helnaln. This is the place to look for the material culture of proto-Shang. Among archaeological cultures known in this area, the lower stratum of Xiahjiadiahn was ruled out by Lii Bolqian The reason is that the upper part of the lower stratum of Xiahjiadiahn was contemporaneous with and distinct from Ehrliigang. The Baoobeii culture of northern Helbeii can be ruled out, as it too remained distinct. It is common knowledge that the Yuehshil culture of Shandong and the Huiweih culture of northern Helnaln are not the precursors in question. A large area to the west can be ruled out, as it was homeland of the Xiah people. The earliest artifacts of Shang were found in the early stages of the lower stratum of Ehrliigang. No trace of proto-Shang was found there. In southern Helbeii, the Tailxi culture retained its links to the Lolngshan culture of Jiahnxgou and to the Xiahqiyualn culture until the height of the Ehrliigang period. It was influenced by Ehrliigang, but not its precursor. In the period corresponding to the upper stratum of Ehrliigang, Xiahqiyualn was replaced by Tailxi. In places where its presence is known, no evidence can be found to support the idea that Xiahqiyualn was proto-Shang. In fact, as bona fide Xiahqiyualn artifacts have been found as far south as Qii, where there was strong presence of Ehrliitoul culture, it can be concluded that the confluence of these two cultures did not produce proto-Shang.
Chelng cast doubt on the proposition that the source of the material culture of Shang is to be found to the north of Zhehngzhou. One should look elsewhere. By way of elimination, his conclusion is that one should look for proto-Shang at Shangqiu, the putative homeland of Shang. Chelng arrived at this conclusion in spite of the fact that he had made no overt effort to study archaeological evidence germane to Shangqiu.
Zhang Cuihlialn studied the presence of Ehrliitoul, Xiahqiyualn and Ehrliigang cultures in eastern Helnaln, as well as their interaction with the local Yuehshil culture. She found evidence that eastern Helnaln, including Shangqiu, was settled by Yuehshil groups, whose material culture was distinct from that of Shang-Ehrliigang, in pre- and early Shang. Incursions from the north or west, if any, were isolated and brief. Since Yuehshil artifacts remained in eastern Helnaln until the middle of Ehrliigang period, and the two evolved separately, it is clear that Yuehshil was not proto-Shang. She discounted the possibility that Ehrliitoul or Lolngshan could be the source of the material culture of Shang, as all archeological evidence points to the fact that Ehrliitoul had a continuum of material cultures with minimal input from Shandong or anywhere else. With the discovery of many Yuehshil sites in eastern Helnaln, it is also clear that Ehrliitoul had little or no presence in this area. The source oflate Ehrliitoul or Ehrliigang has to be sought elsewhere. Though Ms. Zhang did not suggest where to look for the Holy Grail, she was adamant that it was not in eastern Helnaln. Her conclusion is diametrically opposite to that of Chelng.
Yualn Guaangkuoh attempted to sort out the pottery traditions of Qii in eastern Helnaln and at three different sites in Zhehngzhou: Nalnguanwaih, Luohdalmiaoh and Ehrliigang.4 In the pre-Shang stage of Luhtailgang in Qii, the pottery can be divided into four distinct groups. Group A could be identified with Xiahqiyualn. Group B was a native Yuehshil tradition with inputs from Xiahqiyualn. Group C could be identified with Ehrliitoul. Group D was the pure Yuehshil culture of eastern Helnaln. Group B at Luohdalmiaoh was derived from group A of Luhtailgang. Group C at Luohdalmiaoh was the same as Group D of Luhtailgang. At the time of stage III of Ehrliitoul, Zhehngzhou sites such as Luohdalmiaoh, Oahhelcun and Xishiicun of Yilngyalng, were all within the cultural horizon of Ehrliitoul. In stage IV of Ehrliitoul, pottery traditions such as those of group B and C of Luohdalmiaoh appeared in Zhehngzhou. Typical Ehrliitoul pottery was found in such other sites in Qii as Zhugang and Niultoulgang. The site at Zhugang peaked in stage III of Ehrliitoul. It was abandoned early in stage IV. At Niultoulgang, the pottery evolution was in lock step with Luohdalmiaoh. While Yualn focused his attention on Zhehngzhou and Qii, his findings were consistent with those of Ms. Zhang.
|Archaeological Culture Site||Yuehshil||Ehrliitoul||Xiaqiyualn||local|
In the archaeological map of Helnaln, there appears to be no room for proto-Shang. The analysis of Yualn suggests the material culture of Shang arrived at Zhehngzhou and air almost simultaneously and then spread quickly. He proposes a possible route for this advance: Pulyalng-Juhn-HuaJ-Chalngyualn-aii, in an interjacent zone between horizons of the Yuehshil culture of southwestern Shandong and the Huiweih culture of northern Helnaln. One feature in the approaches of all three authors is that they believed proto-Shang could not be found in the area they studied intensively, and that they placed proto-Shang in an area of which they claimed little or no direct knowledge.
According to Zhang Guolshuoh, proto-Shang/Xiahqiyualn and Dongyil/Yuehshil showed up in tandem in Luhtailgang, Nalnguanwaih and Ehrliitoul because they were military allies.5 Archaeological data suggest southwestern Shandong and northeastern Helnaln as the contact zone of the material cultures of Yil, Xiah and Shang. The western limit of Yuehshil reached no further than southwestern Shandong and eastern Helnaln. The southern limit of Xiahqiyualn/proto-Shang reached as far as Qii. West of the line between Qii and Luhyih was the homeland of Xiah. Since cultural elements of Xiahqiyualn and Yuehshil moved in tandem, they can almost be looked at as a single mixed culture. Such mixing is rare in archaeology; an alliance is implied. With this alliance in the east and Xiah in the west, the two sides were separated by a strip of land that is marked today by Huihjiihel. Yaanshi, according to Zhang, was the capital of Xiah Jiel. The sudden appearance there of the material cultures of Xiahqiyualn and Yuehshil was surely the result of a military conquest.
By identifying Xiahqiyualn as proto-Shang, Mr. Zhang appears to be in the same camp as Ms. Zhang and Mr. Yualn. A military alliance explains the colocation of Xiahqiyualn and Yuehshil. Chelng's objection, on the other hand, still presents a problem. A valid point cannot be outvoted by a majority. The material culture of proto-Shang is still an open issue. While each author has made valid points, it is quite likely that they all missed something. Although the views of only four authors are cited in some detail in this article, there is reason to believe many more are involved in this debate.include '../includes/navbar.html'; ?> include '../includes/footer.html'; ?>