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The Study of the Formation and Development of Prehistory Settlement in the Peinan Site
the Peinan Site,settlement pattern,building structure,slate coffin burial,phytolith,rice agriculture,site-formation process,
|Publication Year :||2017|
The motivation of this paper was derived from the Peinan Site Excavation Project Phase Two, which is the most recent excavation project started from 2010 by the excavation team in a three-year plan. The Peinan Site, the most important archaeology site in Taiwan, has the largest excavation of slate coffin burial groups, obtains the greatest amount of elegant prehistoric jades, and preserves the most abundant ancient settlement’s building structure in East Asia. The Peinan Site has been the most explored archaeological site (by scholars and researchers) from the very beginning of our Taiwan Archaeology History. Back in the 1980’s, archaeologists had conducted up to 13 rescue excavations from the fast-urban development requirement in the Peinan Site area. The rescue, thus, unveiled thousands of slate coffin burials and saved large numbers of burial grave goods from the development; in which the saved data and information had contributed many important archaeological insights for the later studies of the Peinan Site. Thus the Peinan Site Excavation Project Phase Two is the most recent significant excavation project to deepened and further understand the distribution range and cultural content of this important prehistoric site. This paper is to integrate decades of archaeological excavation data of the Peinan Site, in which includes all my interest in the pattern of prehistory settlement, the layout of building structure, the distribution of settlement, and the relevance of its environmental data. My goal is to unveil the reason the Peinan Culture people choose to settle down in the alluvial fan in front of the Pinlang-Sihge Mountain, and understand the way they use environmental resources to form and develop the Peinan prehistory settlement into such a scale.
To fully understand the layout of the prehitoric settlements and the building structures, as well as the usage and awareness of environment in the Peinan Site, this study cited archaeological theory of site-formation processes, settlement archeology and landscape archeology. This study also combined and integrated the excavation data over the years, the drilling data of the stratums, the geophysical prospecting data, the carbon dating data, and the phytolith analysis data of the Peinan Site through GIS; and further analyzed through spatial analysis to discuss the accumulation and distribution of cultural layer, the settlement pattern, and the means of livelihood.
To understand the distribution of cultural layer in the Peinan Site, I used different methods of geophysical prospect, two significant stratigraphic drilling work, and several archaeological excavations to master the formation process factors relevant to cultural layer. I also further used GIS to integrate the DTM data of the Peinan Site. After overall analysis and back and forth operation, it now shows the distribution of culture layer. To our finding, unlike the present terrain of the Peinan Site which is higher in the west side and lower in the east side, the stratum of culture layer showed in an opposite conclusion: the east side was higher than the west side in prehistoric period. Moreover, there was a relatively concave area in the southwest side, which may be part of the river sedimentary environment; the distribution of the alluvial gravel stratum from the Pinlang-Sihge Mountain was northwest to southeast; and the dating data also showed that the formation of the north side of cultural layer was earlier than the south side.
From the analysis of settlement pattern point of view, I propose a dissertation different from the 'interior burial' theory by using spatial analytical method in discussing the formation pattern of the folding relationship between the building structure and the slate coffin burial area in the stratum: the Peinan Culture people used to build their settlement in a block-shaped layout, which followed the framework of the building structure distribution and the settlement layout. The framework of the block was placed as the following pattern: the burial zone in the west side, the masonry circle zone in the central, and the building structure zone in the east side; the building structure was called as 'small housing', 'standing stone structure' and 'stone paving floor' in correspondent from the west to the east side. After conceptionizing the prehistoric settlement pattern of the Peinan Site, we can suppose the distribution and the range of the prehistoric settlement through excavation data, and have the following hypothesis: the prehistoric people’s agency arose in their landscape usage and development began from the east side to the west side.
The phytolith analysis was introduced into the research of the Peinan Site in 2010. The Peinan Site was considered as the most prosperous prehistoric settlement in the research of its livelihood. However, the study of the means of livelihood is as scarce as the ecological remains unearthed. Therefore, I brought in phytolith analysis to the Peinan Site research to find more and further information. Through other scholar’s efforts, the Peinan Site was confirmed to have rice, which the species was identified as Indica rice and fully implied the advanced development of agriculture. In this study, I conducted a quantitative analysis from soil samples of the cultural layer to further indicate that there was a long-term and large-scale of rice farming behavior in prehistoric population in the Peinan Site, which the yield was like wetland rice farming. Moreover, the discovery of rice phytolith was closely related to the distribution of cultural layer and may be the main driving source for the development of the Peinan Culture.
In general, The Peinan Site had existed during 3500B.P. to 2700B.P., its culture development was established base on their ancient’s fully understanding and adaptation of the environment, forming a set of sustainable development of the settlement layout and rice agricultural livelihood. Even though the Peinan culture ended from the alluvial gravel layer’s debris flow from the Pinlang-Sihge Mountain, which eliminated all preceding important cultural behaviors; however, the development of the Peinan Culture had showed great activity agency and association between the people and the environment.
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