Journal of Geographical Sciences ›› 2016, Vol. 26 ›› Issue (5): 603-618.doi: 10.1007/s11442-016-1288-x

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Geographic distribution of archaeological sites and their response to climate and environmental change between 10.0-2.8 ka BP in the Poyang Lake Basin, China

Jiajia XU1,2(), Yulian *JIA2(), Chunmei MA1, Cheng *ZHU1(), Li WU3, Yuyuan LI4, Xinhao WANG5   

  1. 1. School of Geographic and Oceanographic Sciences, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210046, China
    2. Key Laboratory of Poyang Lake Wetland and Watershed Research, Ministry of Education; School of Geography and Environment, Jiangxi Normal University, Nanchang 330022, China
    3. College of Territorial Resources and Tourism, Anhui Normal University, Wuhu 241002, Anhui, China
    4. Jiangxi Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, Nanchang 330003, China
    5. College of Hydrology and Water Resources, Hohai University, Nanjing 210098, China
  • Received:2015-08-28 Accepted:2016-01-06 Online:2016-05-25 Published:2016-05-25
  • About author:

    Author: Xu Jiajia, PhD Candidate, specialized in environmental archaeology. E-mail:

    *Corresponding author: Jia Yulian (1971-), Professor, E-mail: Zhu Cheng (1954-), Professor, E-mail:

  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41371204, No.41571179;Major Program of the National Social Science Foundation of China, No.11&ZD183;The Collaborative Innovation Center for Major Ecological Security Issues of Jiangxi Province and Monitoring Implementation, No.JXS-EW-00


The temporal-spatial geographic distribution of archaeological sites and its feature between 10.0-2.8 ka BP (ka BP= thousands of years before 0 BP, where “0 BP” is defined as the year AD 1950) were determined, based on GIS spatial analysis in the Poyang Lake Basin. The relationship between geographic distribution of sites of different periods under subsistence existence of ancient civilizations, climate and environmental change was investigated. The results revealed numerous archaeological sites of the Neolithic Age (10.0-3.6 ka BP). The sites were mainly located in the northern part of the Poyang Lake Basin, a hilly and mountainous area with many river terraces suitable for the development of human civilization. The number of archaeological sites rapidly increased during the Shang and Zhou dynasties (3.6-2.8 ka BP) and spread widely on the floodplains of the middle and lower reaches of Ganjiang River and onto the west, south, and southeast beach areas of the Poyang Lake. Holocene records of climate change suggested that it was possible that climate fluctuations had a great impact on human evolution in the study area. Before 3.6 ka BP, westward and northward expansion of Neolithic cultures in the Poyang Lake watershed occurred under the background of climate amelioration (becoming warmer and wetter). The ancient people lived in the hilly areas with high elevation. The simple mode of a fishing and gathering economy was mostly suited to this area in the early Neolithic Age. The scope of human activities was expanded and cultural diversity developed in the late Neolithic Age. However, with population growth and increasing survival pressure in a dry-cold climatic stage after 3.6 ka BP, this simple living mode had to be abandoned, and various forms of economy, the majority being agriculture, were developed on flood plains of the lower reaches of numerous rivers around Poyang Lake. This promoted flourishing of the Bronze culture of South China.

Key words: Poyang Lake Basin, archaeological sites, temporal-spatial distribution, climate and environmental change, Shang and Zhou dynasties