Argon Isotopic Dating of Neolithic Jade Artifacts and Raw Materials from Eastern China and Its Implications

  • Author(s): Su-Jung Chou, Ching-Hua Lo, Yun-Ao He, Jing-Guo Zhang, Yoshiyuki Iizuka, Ju-Yu Na, and Tsung-Kuang Yeh
  • DOI: 10.3319/TAO.2008.07.07.01(TT)
  • Keywords: Ar-Ar dating, Archaic jades, China
  • Citation: Chou, S. J., C. H. Lo, Y. A. He, J. G. Zhang, Y. Iizuka, J. Y. Na, and T. K. Yeh, 2009: Argon isotopic dating of neolithic jade artifacts and raw materials from eastern China and its implications. Terr. Atmos. Ocean. Sci., 20, 501-509, doi: 10.3319/TAO.2008.07.07.01(TT)

The origin of Chinese culture during the Neolithic age has long been a focus of academic debate. The controversy is centered on whether the origins of Neolithic culture in China were singular or more diverse. Consequently, understanding the spatial distribution of archaeological jade artifacts in the context of the sources of raw jade has been one of the most reason ablemeans to infer the routes of cultural migration and trade activities during the Neolithic period. It was widely advocated that HeTian Jade from XinJiang was the sole source of jade for all of Neo lithic China. However, the discovery of jade mines at MeiLing (JiangSu Prov ince) in 1989 raises the question as to whether raw jade could have come from an alternate source other than XinJiang during this period. Using 40Ar/39Ar laser dating technique, this study at tempts to correlate the formation ages of excavated jade artifacts at LingJiaTan (AnHui Prov ince) to the nearby MeiLing jade mines and far away HeTian jade mines, in the hope of tracing the possible culture in teractions and trading activities among these areas. The results show that the for mation ages of LingJiaTan jade artifacts are around 120 Ma, about the same age as jade from the nearby MeiLing jade mines. In addition, both jades are tremolite with similar chemical compositions and mineral characteristics. Therefore, the material source of jade artifacts excavated at LingJiaTan archeological site most likely originated from these nearby MeiLing jade mines. By contrast, there is a big difference in the formation ages between Meiling jade artifacts and raw HeTian Jade (277.3 Ma). Based on these results, weconclude that in the Neolithic age, people living in LingJiaTan (AnHui Province) probably had interactions with people around MeiLing (JiangSu Province), but not with peoples of XinJiang Province.

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