Human-Environment Interactions

Relationship between archaeological sites distribution and environment from 1.15 Ma BP to 278 BC in Hubei Province

  • School of Geographic and Oceanographic Sciences, Nanjing University, Nanjing 210093, China
Li Lan (1983-), Ph.D, specialized in environmental archaeology. E-mail:

Received date: 2011-01-21

  Revised date: 2011-03-10

  Online published: 2011-10-03

Supported by

National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.40971115; University Doctoral Foundation, No.20090091110036; Open Foundation of the State Key Laboratory of Loess and Quaternary Geology from the Institute of Earth Environment, CAS, No.SKLLQG0817; Test Foundation of Modern Analyses Center of Nanjing University, No.0209001309; Foundation of the Ministry of Science and Technology of the People’s Republic of China, No.2010BAK67B02; Scientific Research Foundation of Graduate School of Nanjing University, No.2011CL11


A total of 1362 archaeological sites from the Paleolithic Age to the Warring States time in Hubei Province increase gradually from west to east and from high land to low land. The number of Paleolithic sites with altitude of 50-500 m account for 78% of the whole, while 71%-95% of sites from the Neolithic Age to the Warring States time mainly distribute at the areas of 0-200 m. The temporal-spatial distribution of archeological sites in this area is affected by two factors. For one thing, the human beings of every period need to choose the first or the second terrace as living sites which are near water source and are easy to withstand flood. Additionally, affecting by the regional tectonic uplift since the Holocene, down cutting of rivers can form new river valley, and lateral erosion and accumulation of river in stable time of tectonic movement can result in increasing of many new terraces. So, the human beings migrated to adapt to the change of terrace location, leading to the sites increase gradually in the lower areas of the central and eastern parts of this province. For other things, the temporal-spatial distribution of archeological sites in this area is affected by the climate condition. The Paleolithic sites mostly distribute in the Hanshui River Valley in northeastern Shiyan, southeast of Jinzhou and east of Jinmen, which is because rivers distributed in higher areas in this period. During the Chengbeixi Culture period, the sites are rare in the quondam Paleolithic sites distribution area, but increase obviously along the Yangtze River near the southwest Yichang. The spore-pollen record of Dajiuhu Basin indicates that only 23 Chengbeixi cultural sites may be related to more precipitation and flood during the Holocene wet and hot period. The Daxi Culture, Qujialing Culture and Shijiahe Culture are corresponding to middle and top of the Dajiuhu spore-pollen Zone Ⅳ, during which the climate is in order as a whole and is propitious to agricultural development. In the Qujialing Culture period, 32 of original 34 Daxi cultural sites disappeared, while 90 sites increase abruptly in the higher highlands in the north of Xiangfan-Jinmen-Xiaogan, which may respect with enlarging of water areas. The Chu Culture period is corresponding to Dajiuhu spore-pollen Zone V, which is in warm and dry Holocene phase, but it seems that the climate condition is still propitious to agricultural cultivation and the number of archeological sites increase heavily to 593. In addition, there are the least archaeological sites in the lake areas of southeast Hubei Province because of low-lying topography with altitude of 0-50 m and the severest flood.

Cite this article

LI Lan, WU Li, ZHU Cheng, LI Feng, MA Chunmei . Relationship between archaeological sites distribution and environment from 1.15 Ma BP to 278 BC in Hubei Province[J]. Journal of Geographical Sciences, 2011 , 21(5) : 909 -925 . DOI: 10.1007/s11442-011-0889-7


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