Journal article

Middle Holocene coastal environment and the rise of the Liangzhu City complex on the Yangtze delta, China

Yan Liu, Qianli Sun, Ian Thomas, Li Zhang, Brian Finlayson, Weiguo Zhang, Jing Chen, Zhongyuan Chen



The large prehistoric city of Liangzhu and its associated earthen dike emerged on the Yangtze delta-coast after two millennia of occupation in this area by scattered communities. Details of its development have been widely discussed in the literature. Our results reveal that the city was selectively built at the head of an embayment backed by hills, with close access to food, freshwater and timber, and with protection from coastal hazards. Radiocarbon and optically stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating shows that it was built around 4.8-4.5. ka, and the earthen dike was constructed a little later at ~. 4.1. ka. During this time, saltwater wetlands were changing to freshwater in response to ra..

View full abstract


Awarded by China National Natural Science Foundation

Awarded by Ministry of Education of China (111-project)

Funding Acknowledgements

This study is financially supported by China National Natural Science Foundation (Grant Nos. 41272194, 41501005) and the Ministry of Education of China (111-project: Grant No. 12600-515400-90017). The authors are indebted to many Prof. Wang Z.H and graduate students in the Department of Geography, East China Normal University, who assisted in laboratory analyses and fieldwork.