Research Articles

Archaeological sites distribution and its physical environmental settings between ca 260-2.2 ka BP in Guizhou, Southwest China

  • 1. School of Geographic and Oceanographic Sciences, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210023, China;
    2. Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography, CAS, Urumqi 830011, China;
    3. College of Hydrology and Water Resources, Hohai University, Nanjing 210098, China;
    4. Guizhou Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, Guiyang 550004, China
Li Kaifeng (1986-), PhD Candidate, specialized in geomorphology and environmental archaeology. E-mail:

Received date: 2013-09-14

  Revised date: 2013-11-20

  Online published: 2014-03-28

Supported by

National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41171163, No.41371204; Scientific Research Foundation of Graduate School of Nanjing University, No.2012CL02; Major Program of National Social Science Foundation of China, No.11&ZD183; Open Foundation of State Key Laboratory of Lake Science and Environment, CAS, No.2012SKL003; Open Foundation of State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology, CAS, No.SKLLQ1206


This study presents an analysis of the spatial-temporal distribution of 230 archaeological sites in Guizhou Province, Southwest China for three selected time periods from the Paleolithic Age to the Shang-Zhou Dynasties. The relationship between archaeological sites distribution and environmental changes is also discussed based on paleo-environmental proxies of δ18O and δ13C recorded in stalagmites from Southwest China. The results show that: in the Paleolithic Age (260-10 ka BP), archaeological sites were concentrated in the central, northwestern and southwestern parts of Guizhou, where the high-altitudinal karst landforms with many natural caves suitable for human habitation are developed. In the Neolithic Age (10-3.6 ka BP), most of human settlements were concentrated in the central, northwestern and southwestern parts, while, a fewer sites were found on river terraces in the southern and eastern parts, and the intermontane basins in the central and western Guizhou. During the Shang-Zhou Dynasties (3.6-2.2 ka BP), the sites were mainly distributed in the intermontane basins and on river terraces, which were suitable for primitive aerial farming. The analysis of paleo-environmental proxies of δ18O and δ13C since 260 ka BP suggested that climate fluctuations had little impact on human settlements in this study area. The distinct physical environment, especially the spatial patterns of karst landforms and arable land played an important role in the archaeological sites distribution of Guizhou.

Cite this article

LI Kaifeng, ZHU Cheng, JIANG Fengqing, LI Bing, WANG Xinhao, CAO Bo, ZHAO Xiaofan . Archaeological sites distribution and its physical environmental settings between ca 260-2.2 ka BP in Guizhou, Southwest China[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2014 , 24(3) : 526 -538 . DOI: 10.1007/s11442-014-1104-4


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