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A place of pilgrimage? Niuheliang and its role in Hongshan society

  • Robert D. Drennan (a1), Xueming Lu (a2) and Christian E. Peterson (a3)

The complex of Niuheliang, in north-eastern China, with its concentration of ceremonial architecture and unusual art, has been considered the most highly developed polity of the Hongshan period, representing the integration of a large territory. In contrast, the supposed absence of residential remains has been advanced to suggest that it was a vacant ceremonial centre. Systematic survey of the area is now helping to clarify relationships between ceremonial sites and occupation patterns. Densities of utilitarian pottery sherds were used to map settlement and estimate population levels in relation to the locations of ceremonial architecture and concentrations of ritual pottery. This reveals that despite unproductive soils, the area had a relatively high, although scattered, population, focused in part on ritual locations. The results support a role for Niuheliang as a place of pilgrimage, but within a nexus of settled communities that sustained its ceremonial activities.

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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

G.L. Barnes & D. Guo . 1996. The ritual landscape of ‘Boar Mountain’ Basin: the Niuheliang site complex of northeastern China. World Archaeology 28: 209–19.

J. Kahn 2015. Identifying residences of ritual practitioners in the archaeological record as a proxy for social complexity. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 40: 5981.

J. Kantner & K.J. Vaughn . 2012. Pilgrimage as costly signal: religiously motivated cooperation in Chaco and Nasca. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 31: 6682.

Y.K. Lee & N. Zhu . 2002. Social integration of religion and ritual in prehistoric China. Antiquity 76: 715–23.

C.E. Peterson & X. Lu . 2013. Understanding Hongshan-period social dynamics, in A.P. Underhill (ed.) A companion to Chinese archaeology: 5580. Malden (MA): Wiley-Blackwell.

C.E. Peterson , X. Lu , R.D. Drennan & D. Zhu . 2010. Hongshan chiefly communities in Neolithic northeastern China. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 107: 5756–61.

S. Plog & A.S. Watson . 2012. The Chaco pilgrimage model: evaluating the evidence from Pueblo Alto. American Antiquity 77: 449–77.

H. Zhang , A. Bevan & D. Guo . 2013. The Neolithic ceremonial complex at Niuheliang and wider Hongshan landscapes in northeastern China. Journal of World Prehistory 26: 124.

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  • ISSN: 0003-598X
  • EISSN: 1745-1744
  • URL: /core/journals/antiquity
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