Six 4,500-year-old bamboo fragments have been discovered on the Chengdu Plain in China’s Sichuan province, reports the China News Service (ECNS). The fragments were found at the Baodun Ancient Town while the Chengdu Cultural Relics and Archaeology Research Institute was excavating the site.
The carbonized bamboo fragments may have once belonged to a house from the Baodun culture (2700 B.C.E.–1700 B.C.E.), a Neolithic settlement in the Yangtze River area. Because Baodun is the earliest known mass settlement on the Chengdu Plain, it has been a source of fascination among Chinese archaeologists, who believe it challenges the long-held notion that the Yellow River Valley was the sole origin of ancient civilization in the country. Past research has shown that inhabitants grew rice and foxtail millet, and were responsible for the earliest known form of rice cultivation on the Chengdu Plain.
Baodun houses were constructed using the wattle-and-daub method, which involves wooden frames and earthen walls. In this case, however, the frames were bamboo, and the walls were made from mud. Tang Miao, deputy head of the Baodun Project, told ECNS that “the discovery has directly proved the existence of the bamboo-mud wall.”
Stoneware and thousands of pottery shards were also discovered. ECNS reported that they are similar in style to those found at the neighboring excavation Sanxingdui, which recently yielded a 3,000-year old gold mask, among other findings. The Bronze Age Sanxingdui culture came after the Baodun, and its inhabitants focused more on metallurgy. As the oldest prehistoric settlement in the region, Baodun is likely to continue shedding light on the roots of Sanxingdui culture.