Chinese archaeologists have discovered salt processing sites from 800 years ago, which are the earliest salt production sites of their kind, according to a Nov 3 announcement, bringing new clues to China’s salt manufacturing history.
The new site adds strong support to a hypothesis that the Liao and Kin dynasties (1115-1234) developed salt processing in Northeast China and, as Liu Xiaoxi, an archaeologist at the provincial relics and archaeology institute, puts it, “It’s strong evidence of a processing technology that existed in the Liao and Kin and speaks to us as an historical account of the salt industry in Northeast China.”
Birds-eye view of the Yin Jiawopu site, in Da’an, Jilin province
The discoveries were made by a team of archaeologists from Jilin University’s frontier archaeology center and province’s Relics and Archaeology Institute, in the city of Da’an, who were digging at the Yin Jiawobu site, from June to August of this year, where they found five pits for breaking up salty soil and purifying the brine, with stove sites and firewood.
The site in Da’an is rich in saline-alkali soil, of the kind just described. The team studied the people living in the area in the past and how they put the soil into a fire pit, then boiled a salt- water mixture and got the salt through evaporation.
Historical records, such as the Kin Dynasty History, have described this process, and the place where the site was located, and some locals were still using the method as late as the 1960s, one of the scientists said.
Archaeologist shows a new site to visiting Journalists
The team was not able, however, to recover any tools used for salt making or pottery used for preserving.
Archaeologists have found similar sites for making salt from seawater and wells, in Shandong and Sichuan provinces, so, the Jilin finding marks a new discovery in salt extraction.
In the words of Shi Baolin, team leader of the project, “This is an amazing finding in Northeast China and we’ll continue to dig at the site and do more research on the salt extraction method.”
Excavation work in Yin Jiawopu site, where 20 remains have been found in the past few months.