São Paulo – In 1936, student Shi Xingeng, 25, discovered the Liangzhu civilization in his hometown, Yuhang (Zhejiang province, eastern China). In the 1980s, the country planned to widen National Highway 104, which would cover 2,000 kilometers between Beijing and the country’s southeastern coast. Halfway through, archaeological excavations found an artificial platform on a stretch of the road.
The discovery was so important that it changed the traditional historical concept centered on the Yellow River Basin. With the results of stratigraphy and carbon-14 dating, it was estimated that the hydraulics system would have originated 5,000 years ago. The influence of the Liangzhu civilization on later Chinese civilization, represented by jade handicrafts, was inherited by the societies that followed it.
To understand the impact of this discovery, the TVT heard the teacher Mercedes Okumura, from the Biosciences Institute of the University of São Paulo, coordinator of the Laboratory for Human Evolutionary Studies, which researches aspects of human evolution including biological evolution, cultural evolution and archeology with the study of the peoples of the past through their material remains.
The story of Liangzhu, recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site since last year, will be the subject of a documentary that will be shown by TVT from this Wednesday (10), at 17:30. There will be three episodes. In this interview, Mercedes talks about the importance of archaeological studies for humanity: “Archeology is important in many ways. First, there is our fascination with the past. But there is also a question that is almost universal in humans: who are we and where did we come from? ”
How did you know about Liangzhu’s archaeological discovery?
Around the 2000s when archaeologists began to intensify excavations at this site. Last year in 2019, UNESCO included the Liangzhu archaeological site on the World Heritage List. The documentary shows how mobile and small groups became farmers, building their rice plantations causing an increase in population and the origins of the hierarchy of social classes. It is also interesting how these groups took advantage of the natural landscape, mountains, rivers, and built a mixture of what is a natural landscape, complemented by an artificial landscape, with the construction of embankments, dikes, reservoirs used in the construction and planning of this city.
At the same time, 5,000 years ago there were cities
and developing civilizations in Mesopotamia and India and among other cities
between these regions. This is an important time because that’s when it starts
to establish the origins of our civilization, and by civilization we have to understand
which are big cities with an important socio-political-economic organization
with hierarchies, many people, who specialize in different jobs, farmers,
builders, merchants, priests, kings or emperors of the highest
hierarchies, often also slaves, so this is the moment in the history of the
world in which this social differentiation really starts to become more important.
Jade handicrafts started to develop in Liangzhu and became a cultural symbol in China
was the American continent at that time?
In that same period, 5,000 years ago on the continent
American, there were a variety of livelihood strategies for human groups.
For example, in Brazil, we didn’t have an agriculture level
in China and elsewhere in the world. However, in the Amazon, we already have what would be
a beginning of management, agriculture, an incipient horticulture of plants.
Agriculture is a long-term process of domesticating plants so it does not
it happens overnight. Whereas in the Amazon we already have this principle
domestication of plants, albeit incipient, in other parts of Brazil for
For example, groups were still what we call hunter-gatherers.
groups that did not domesticate plants that lived precisely from hunting animals and
collecting plants in the landscape.
On the south and southeast coast of Brazil we
we had the groups that built big heaps of shells that we call
Sambaqui. If we think about this issue of the built landscape, then these hills
really an important intervention in the landscape
of hunter-gatherer groups and fishermen who lived on the coast.
from the interior of Brazil, we have groups who were unaware of agriculture and who lived
hunting and gathering as well.
“Understanding the diversity of cultures makes us more tolerant of differences”
importance of archeology today?
Archeology is important in many ways;
first we have our fascination with the past and also a question that there are almost
universal in humans that is: who we are and where we come from. Understand the past
helps us understand how we got to the present moment, after all, this is a process
historical, what happens in the past is decisive, it determines or limits what
will happen in the future. So these great civilizations, ultimately,
will result in what we live in the present moment, in megalopolis, with changes in styles
of life, diet, physical activity patterns.
All of this comes as a result of these great
civilizations ultimately. Learning archeology is important for us to understand
how we got here. Another thing is the idea of a cultural heritage that can be
a specific group, a region, a country. So, the appreciation of these cultures
it’s important for us to understand our identity as part of a more restricted group,
part of a region, a country, a nation.
This understanding of cultures is also important
because it shows us a diversity of cultural aspects and understanding the diversity
makes us more tolerant of differences. So, it’s not just me, no
it is only my culture that is important. The culture of the other is also important. The
aspects that different groups value are equally important. If we think
in terms of a common sense that people have about native groups or for example
our indigenous people, it is often thought that the indigenous people are all the same. But
they are not the same, neither today nor the past. Studying this diversity
indigenous of the past is also important in archeology.
“In the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Brazil has only the Serra da Capivara National Park in Piauí”
is archeology in Brazil?
In Brazil, archeology is viewed in two ways
different ways: one of them very positive, as most people find it fascinating,
there is a demand from the lay, non-specialized public, to better understand the past
and even a
surprise on the part of people to know that
there is archeology in Brazil. Archeology it is not only in Egypt, China although it is
fascinating, not only in Mesopotamia, in the United States.
We have archeology in Brazil, we have a past
that happens before the arrival of Europeans in Brazil that needs to be known and
This is the positive part. We archeologists are very well received by
people, they are interested in prehistory, they want to know more. Maybe the
less positive part is the question of preserving the heritage and the
public financing policies.
In China, Liangzhu was considered a site of maximum protection in archeology, a top conservation priority. Liangzhu has a team of researchers that monitors not only the site but also the surroundings of the site and who constantly thinks about how to keep this site preserved for now and for future generations. There is a concern with the maintenance and preservation of this heritage.
On the UNESCO World Heritage list,
Brazil proposed and managed as a World Heritage Site, only a single archaeological site
prehistoric, which is the Serra da Capivara National Park in Piauí. This shows
how much better public policies we could have to preserve these assets.
Not that all archaeological sites should be considered a world heritage site
of UNESCO, but they are our heritage, they are heritage of the whole Brazilian people
and that should be more valued.
What can Brazilian archeology learn from Liangzhu’s discovery?
In terms of archeology, certainly the question of proposing better policies and preserving heritage. China has played an admirable role not only in preserving key sites like Liangzhu’s, but also in creating and maintaining the museums that display the materials from this excavation.
Liangzhu has a museum close to the site, you visit the archaeological site and go to the museum to see the pieces that were found, to understand better and have the reconstructions of what the city was like, this is all very important. Another impressive thing is the degree, the quality of these excavations, excavating a city, such a complex is a Herculean task to say the least and what is noticeable, looking not only at documentaries but also at scientific publications is that these excavations are very well done , registered with advanced technology.
I would like to know the Liangzhu Museum, the excavations, the field work, the preparation and analysis of these materials. The exchange between researchers is important, there is no single way to do archeology, we always end up exchanging new ideas and thinking about new possibilities.
I congratulate the scientists, researchers and the entire team that worked on these Liangzhu excavations, a long-term and large-scale archaeological survey that requires a lot of organization and teamwork.
of the first episode
The first episode of the series produced by Chinese TV – dubbed – brings an overview of what Liangzhu is. It shows the location and evolutionary chronology of a region that, 5,000 years ago, demonstrated an important social, political and cultural organization. The film also describes great achievements observed at the site, such as the construction of dams, drains, the importance of agriculture (rice) and handicrafts. The practice that started to develop in Liangzhu and that would later become an important cultural symbol in China: handicraft made from jade.
Edition: Paulo Donizetti de Souza
The post TVT shows a documentary from China on Liangzhu’s archaeological discovery first appeared in Rede Brasil Atual.
Argentine President contaminated by covid-19 and fulfills isolation
São Paulo – The president of Argentina, Alberto Fernández, informed on social media that he tested positive for covid-19, after showing symptoms of the disease. He said he is in isolation and has warned people with whom he has had contact in the past 48 hours. And he also reported that he had 37.3ºC of fever, in addition to feeling a slight headache.
The announcement was made this Saturday (3), the day after Fernández turned 62. “For everyone’s information, I am physically well and, although I wanted to end my birthday without this news, I am also in a good mood,” said the president.
He received the first dose of the vaccine (Sputnik) in January. The second, the following month. “I’m fine, I don’t have any symptoms. Only this fever from yesterday that I reported ”, he declared to the newspaper Clarín. “It is a very complicated virus, and the demonstration is that I got infected, even though I was vaccinated with both doses and with extreme care,” he added.
Former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who received the second dose of the vaccine today, sent a message of support to “Daqui do Brasil I send good energy, hoping for its prompt recovery. May soon overcome this disease to continue caring for the Argentine people. Hugs, mate! ”He wrote.
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