Hulushan Site: Transformation of the Ancient “Economic Development Zone”

2020-03-16 16:54:01

Looking northward atop the Hulu Hill, one can see a “rocket” standing not far away. That is the model of the Long March 3 carrier rocket exhibited in Nanping Spaceflight Exploration Hall. The apex of the rocket model reaches almost the same altitude as the top of the Hulu Hill, forming a sort of distant symmetry between the product of cutting-edge technology with the remains of the prehistoric civilization.

Here was originally the hill behind a peaceful village which is located at the junction of Mount Wuyi and Jianyang. As Nanping Municipal Government has moved its residence to Wuyi New District, Xingtian Town where Hulu Hill is located has become the backland of the new district. A light rail transit line is under construction nearby and it takes one a less than 20-minute drive to arrive at Nanpingshi High-Speed Train Station.

Residents of Xijiao Village have long believed that Hulu Hill served as the “guardian” of the locals. As village seniors put it, Hulu Hill was regarded as a Geomantic Treasure Land as it looks like a gold ingot from the side. Until the 1950s, local villagers had built tombs for the deceased in the shadowed part of Hulu Hill. In the old days when banditry and organized crimes went rampant before the founding of the P.R.C., local villagers always reserved a blind pass leading to Hulu Hill while keeping a vigilant eye on the entrance to the village.

Hulu Hill is now a low-rise tea hill with a tablet inscribed with “Protected Cultural Monument” at the foot of the hill and a sheepfold lies beside the hill. Cao Jianmin, a villager designated for cultural relics protection, said that Hulu Hill was the village orchard before becoming the tea hill. But before that, the hill served as a militia training base and a barren hill for grazing sheep and a cemetery hill even further back. Only after the archaeological excavations in the 1980s did the locals come to know that Hulu Hill was once an “economic development zone” of ancient settlers of northern Fujian.

Hulu Hill became the residence and workplace of ancient humans in the late Neolithic period when ancient settlers fired earthenware. The Hulushan site further prospered during the Xia and Shang Dynasties and saw the expanded scale of people’s products and activities which left ruins of many kiln sites and firing pits and residential structures. At the same time, as the humans grew more adapted to the natural environment, they left a rich array of earthenware and stone tools and grew crops including rice and millet. Ancient settlers continued to reside here during the Shang and Zhou Dynasties, with the legacy of some ash trenches, ash pits, and tombs left.

A squarish highland on the very top of the hill proved to be the remains of buildings. The midden cultural deposits of the highland have 3 layers and the second layer is the cultural layer of the Western Zhou Dynasty, and the third layer is the stylobate plot of the same period. The stylobate is rectangular and formed from soil deposits in a standard and regular shape. It is south-faced, 15 meters from the east to the west, and about 10 meters from the south to the north, and the soil estrade has protective walls made of large rocks on four sides. Nine rocks arranged east-to-west both in the central part and east side of the stylobate formed parallel lines. It is assumed that the arrangement reflects the ancient Chinese practice of taking “nine” as the largest single-digit number, also a noble number.

The fourth and the fifth midden cultural deposits can be found beneath the stylobate. These deposits are poorly preserved remains from the late Xia Dynasty and the early Shang Dynasty.

Relevant studies revealed that the stylobate would have been the venue for sacrificial rituals by local settlers in the Western Zhou Dynasty. Huang Yunming, the team leader for the archaeological excavation of the Hulushan site for 3 years in a row from 2014, believed that the residential site of late Shang Dynasty and sacrificial relics of the Western Zhou Dynasty discovered in the Hulushan site added to the inventory of similar relics of the same period in Fujian region and provided the first-hand data for the study on the building types, inhabitation forms, intellectual and cultural activities, among other things, of northern Fujian of the Shang and Zhou Dynasties.

Following the excavation, the archaeological team completely backfilled the Hulushan site for its protection, in the hope of offering and preserving physical evidence for future excavation, protection, and exhibition of the site to leave a valuable prehistoric cultural legacy to later generations.

Based on the “Master Plan of Wuyi New District (2010-2030)” approved by the Fujian Provincial People’s Government, the Hulushan site is included in the Xingtian Cluster, which mainly functions as a tourist resort and area dedicated to cultural and creative industries as well as sci-tech development. Following the completed spaceflight exploration hall and the sports complex under construction, according to the local villagers, the health and wellness base and the panda exhibition hall have moved to the site selection period.

Hulu Hill, the guardian and nurturer of Xijiao Village for the past thousands of years, is awaiting grand changes. These changes will also greatly impact the subsequent protection and development of the site and enrich the abundant historical and cultural connotations of Wuyi New District.

“Hulushan site sits close to the Chengcun Site of Han Dynasty Town and the Minyue State Capital Site Museum and is adjacent to the Mount Wuyi Scenic Area, which gives it the high value for protection, exploitation, and development.” Huang Yunming said, optimistic about the potential of the cultural relic.