Environmental and social factors influencing the spatiotemporal variation of archaeological sites during the historical period in the Heihe River basin, northwest China

TitleEnvironmental and social factors influencing the spatiotemporal variation of archaeological sites during the historical period in the Heihe River basin, northwest China
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsShi Z, Chen T, Storozum MJ, Liu F
Journal Quaternary International
Volume507
Pagination34-42
Date Published02/2019
Accession NumberWOS:000464516500005
Abstract

In northwestern China, many historical nomadic kingdoms and Chinese dynasties sought to control the Heihe River basin, an important location on the eastern part of the ancient Silk Road. Archaeologists have argued that changes in material culture are tied to the frequent turnover in polities in the area, but no published evidence supports these claims. In this paper, we evaluate the relative importance of environmental and political factors in determining the spatiotemporal pattern of archaeological sites in the middle and lower reaches of the Heihe River basin by using previously published high-resolution paleoclimate records and a variety of historical documents. Our results indicate that humans intensively exploited the Heihe River basin during Han dynasty (202BC-AD 220). Following the Han dynasty, during the Wei-Jin (AD 222-589) and Sui-Tang (AD 581-907) periods the number of archaeological sites. In the Western Xia-Yuan period (AD 1038-1368), people mainly settled in the lower reaches of the Heihe River basin and only returned to the middle reaches of the Heihe River basin during the Ming and Qing dynasties (AD 1368-1912). Although climate change and the local environment affected human activities in Heihe River basin, geopolitical events, such as forced mass migrations, are more responsible for influencing the distribution of archaeological sites over the past 2000 years.

DOI10.1016/j.quaint.2018.12.016