First Discovery of earthy salt production workshop of Liao-Jin period in NE China
Aerial photo of the site
Yinjiawopu site is located in the northwest of Yinjiawopu village, Da’an city, Jilin Province, NE China. During the June and August in 2014, the trial excavation has been carried out jointly by the Archaeological Research Center of China Frontier of Jilin University and Jilin Provincial Institute of Archaeology and Cultural Relics, covering an area of almost 300 square meters. More than 10 remains have been found, including 5 leaching brine pits, 2 hearths, 7 ash pits, 1 burial as well as remains of fire and piles of earth. Among those, the burial which breaks through remains of piles of earth is the latest one. According to burial gifts from it, concluding copper human-figured pendent and jade chess pieces, this burial might belong to Jin Dynasty. Therefore, the formation date of earth mound should be no later than Jin Dynasty. In spite of the limited remains uncovered from this excavation, pottery and porcelain shards are the mainstream. Most of the pottery shards are clay grey ones, whereas a few of them are clay yellowish-brown pottery. Large shape ceramics like jars and pots are the most common shapes judging from the rim and body shards of the unearthed pottery. There are only limited porcelain shards, including imitative white porcelain and real white porcelain from Ding kiln. Besides, pottery net weight, copper coins and silver rings are uncovered, too.
The main remains related to salt production of Jin period contain 5 leaching brine pits with almost same structures and forms, which are numbered as LK1～LK5.
LK1 is consisted of two parts, a shallow pit and a deep pit. The former one is rectangular in plane with its north and west walls plastered and constructed by white paste mud. It connects the latter one through a round hole in the middle of the north wall where is also near the bottom. Its north wall is 1.95m long, 0.26m wide in the bottom and 0.2m wide in the top as well as 0.4m deep. The diameter of the hole is about 0.1m. There is a 1-2cm-thick plaster layer unevenly distributed in the bottom of the shallow pit for anti-leakage. The bottom is a gentle slope as a whole from the south down to the north with its east, south and west walls relatively higher, and the middle of the bottom much lower to form a shallow groove running from the south down to the north. The structure makes water which leaks into the bottom easily run down into the deep pit through the shallow groove in the bottom and the round hole in north wall. Six heavily ruined lumbers have been recognized to be put on the plaster layer from east to west. Upon the lumbers, there are traces of wooden boards laid from south to north. In this case, the low wooden shelf of lumbers and boards divides the shallow pit into two compartments. The shallow pit is about 2.3m long from south to north, 1.98m wide from east to west and 0.35 to 0.4m deep.
The latter one is also rectangular in plane with its pithead strengthened by 8cm diameter lumbers. Its south wall is relatively short, whose top part adjacent to the north wall of the former one is sloping. The walls are all constructed by 8cm wide wooden planks and the bottom is covered by mattings with their edges placed on wooden boards. In the condition of holding water for a long period, these boards and mattings can protect the walls and the bottom of the pit. The pithead is about 1.07 m long from east to west and 0.67m wide from south to north. The bottom is about 0.75m long from east to west, 0.45m wide from south to north and 0.23 - 0.4m deep.
bronze pendant from the tomb of Jin dynasty
excavated kitchen range
Despite the fact that there are no tools or pottery and porcelain vessels related to salt production being discovered from the excavation, similarities structures between the remains and the recorded one in the historical documents can be found when observing the structures of 5 leaching brine pits. Furthermore, this place belonged to Zhaozhou (Zhao province) in Jin Dynasty, and in historical documents local Zhaozhou salt should be earthy salt. The institution of making salt from earth still existed in modern times, especially the leaching brine method was of little difference from that of Liao-Jin period. As the first discovery of salt production workshop in Northeast China, the excavation of Yinjiawopu site not only fills a gap in the earthy salt production of Liao-Jin period in Northeast China, but also provides important materials for the research of developmental history of salt industry in Northeast China. (Translator: Ma Huanhuan)