China's Earliest Granaries Found at the Shizhuang Site in Henan
There is no need to panic if you have enough grain in your granary. About 4,000 to 3,700 years ago, the ancestors of the Central Plains understood this truth deeply.
Aerial photo shows the granary remains at the Shizhuang Site. [Photo provided to Henan Daily]
Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of 28 granaries at the Shizhuang Site in Sitong Town of Huaiyang District, Zhoukou City, believed to be the earliest granaries in China. The carbon-14 dating of the charcoal in the granaries shows they can be traced back to the early Xia Dynasty (2070 BC-1600 BC). Experts noted that the granaries provide key research materials for studying the culture of the early Xia Dynasty and refreshing the current understanding of its social structure, administration, governance capacity, etc.
"Judging from the granaries' construction, they can be divided into two kinds, namely above-ground buildings and ground ones, of which the above-ground buildings were built in the form of 'stilted building', to some extent, with several 'mounds' as pillars at their planks-covered bottom. Besides, interconnected ditches around the granaries were also discovered, forming a very good drainage system to keep the grains from the humid environment, which highlighted the wisdom of ancient people in building the granaries." According to Cao Yanpeng, a researcher with the Henan Provincial Institute of Cultural Heritage and Archaeology who led the excavation, the glume shells and reed plants were detected from the relics, which were believed to be the direct bedding or other knitting fabric at the bottom of the granaries.
The number of the granary remains discovered at the Shizhuang Site topped other types of remains such as ash pits, wells, pottery kilns, house sites, tombs, etc. According to Chen Xingcan, head of Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, at the Shizhuang Site, only one interconnecting room with living function was found, indicating that the granaries were separated from the residential area and it was served a group or social organization as a public facility, which probably showed the characteristics of the early state.
Lei Xingshan, a professor at School of Archaeology and Museology, Peking University, remarked that the granaries provide key research materials for studying early China's grain management and tax system since they are the oldest and most concentrated ones with the clearest function and structure compared with previous archaeological excavations.
北京大学考古文博学院教授雷兴山说，对比以往的考古发掘，时庄遗址发现的粮仓年代最早、最集中、功能和结构最清晰，为研究中原地区早期国家的粮食管理和赋税制度等提供了绝佳的实物材料。（中文来源/河南日报 翻译/赵汉青 审校/李文竞）