tDAR Logo tDAR digital antiquity

Grounding an underground survey: Paddy fields and monumental Bronze Age shell-scapes in the Dian Basin, Yunnan, China

Author(s): Zhilong Jiang ; Alice Yao

Year: 2015

» Downloads & Basic Metadata


Regions under paddy cultivation often present limits on site detection. In addition to deep plowing and continuous flooding of the fields, which intensify erosion and weathering of cultural remains, paddy fields are constructed and managed through field leveling and canal dredging. These processes raze and displace sites, leaving behind a fragmentary settlement record consisting primarily of sites defined by raised mounds and/or standing architecture. Oft used survey techniques that seek to document sites through surface finds and distributions are not always suitable for subtropical zones such as Southeast Asia and southwest China where such regimes have existed continuously for millennia or longer. Focusing on the lake basin identified as the core of Bronze Age Dian polity, this paper assesses the possibility and limits of total coverage survey and explores complementary surface and subsurface applications used in our survey. The findings reveal a hierarchical Bronze Age settlement system but also highlight distinctive natural and artificial arrangements which transformed this wetland landscape into a politically contested space.

SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation, or associated data (up to 3 files/30MB) for free. Please visit for instructions and more information.

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Cite this Record

Grounding an underground survey: Paddy fields and monumental Bronze Age shell-scapes in the Dian Basin, Yunnan, China. Alice Yao, Zhilong Jiang. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395909)


Spatial Coverage

min long: 66.885; min lat: -8.928 ; max long: 147.568; max lat: 54.059 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America