Radiocarbon dating of the large-scale bronze age burials at Mogou site in Gansu, China

Prof. Xiaohong Wu1, Miss YiHsien Lin1, Miss Yan Pan1, Prof. Ruilin Mao2, Prof. Hui Wang3

1School Of Archaeology And Muselogy, Peking University, , China, 2Institute of Archaeology in Gansu Province, Lan Zhou, China, 3Fudan University, Shanhai, China

Mogou site is located in the U-shaped mountain area at North-west bank of Tao Valley, on the northeastern edge of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, with 2200 meters high in altitude. The site was excavated since 2008 and more than 1600 burials were found in 8000 square meters. The excavation of this cemetery provides very important new information for the study of eastern and western cultural communication along the Hexi corridor, and also provides important clues for the exploration of the origin and development process of nomadic culture in northwest China. Most of the individuals were buried in the ground directly and some are cremated. The tombs were arranged in rows from northeast to southwest, with the tombs facing northwest. The tombs were in two types, vertical cavity with or without partial chamber. Most of the bombs are only with one chamber. Double chamber tombs are relatively few. The traces of door were found at most of the chambers. Most of simple vertical cavity tombs are buried by one person. There are only a small number of single burial found in tombs with chamber. Usually 2 ~ 3 or more than 10 people buried together, including adults and children in the tombs with chamber. The skeletons in the inner part of the chambers were mostly disturbed, which gave the clue that the individuals were not burials together at one time. Most of the artifacts found with burials were pottery, with relatively few tools, and the skeletons were often decorated with bone, stone and copper. The earthenware are the jars in red clay and gray clay, with double ears, abdominal ears, tiny neck, drum belly etc. Some amphorae with the trend of saddle mouth were found. Lot of the evidences were found for the two different cultural sets of artifacts coexist in the same burial. More than 120 bone samples were collected from the burials, according to the types of tombs, single burial or multi burial, style of artifacts, spatial arrangement, et al. The bone sample were treated following the protocol of the gelatin extraction after pretreatment and graphitization. The radiocarbon measurements were carried out by compact AMS at PKU. Finally, about 50 radiocarbon dating ages were produced and calibrated by OxCal V4.2, calibration curve 2020. The modelling calculation by Bayesian statistics analysis produced the time range of the burials as the first stage from 1648-1562 BC to 1418-1369 BC, the second stage from 1546-1498 BC to 1277-1229 BC. The results shows that the two groups of people with different cultures came to this area at different time and met, stayed along for about hundreds years. The chronological results laid solid foundation for the further research of livelihood, environmental effects, cultural or biological exchange and communication with the two different groups of people.


Xiaong Wu, Professor in archaeological science, in School of Archaeology and Museology, Peking University

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Nov 15 2021


1:00 pm - 1:45 pm
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