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Earliest hydraulic enterprise in China, 5,100 years ago

Liu, B; Wang, N; Chen, M; Wu, X; Mo, D; Liu, J; Xu, S; (2017) Earliest hydraulic enterprise in China, 5,100 years ago. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America , 114 (52) pp. 13637-13642. 10.1073/pnas.1710516114. Green open access

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Abstract

Here we present one of the world's oldest examples of large-scale and formalized water management, in the case of the Liangzhu culture of the Yangtze Delta, dated at 5,300-4,300 years cal B.P. The Liangzhu culture represented a peak of early cultural and social development predating the historically recorded Chinese dynasties; hence, this study reveals more about the ancient origins of hydraulic engineering as a core element of social, political, and economic developments. Archaeological surveys and excavations can now portray the impressive extent and structure of dams, levees, ditches, and other landscape-transforming features, supporting the ancient city of Liangzhu, with an estimated size of about 300 ha. The results indicate an enormous collective undertaking, with unprecedented evidence for understanding how the city, economy, and society of Liangzhu functioned and developed at such a large scale. Concurrent with the evidence of technological achievements and economic success, a unique relationship between ritual order and social power is seen in the renowned jade objects in Liangzhu elite burials, thus expanding our view beyond the practicalities of water management and rice farming.

Type: Article
Title: Earliest hydraulic enterprise in China, 5,100 years ago
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1710516114
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1710516114
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: China, Holocene, Liangzhu, Yangtze Delta, hydraulic system
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Institute of Archaeology > Institute of Archaeology Gordon Square
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10040887
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