Identifying peaks in anthropogenic activity in a landscape is an important starting point for understanding past social dynamics in the longue durée. Through intensive surveys and remote sensing surveys of the Heiliutan Basin (Heiliutan Dacaoyuan 黑流滩大草原) in the southern Kanas Region (Kanasi 喀纳斯), Xinjiang, China, a high-resolution dataset for over 4000 years of material culture is established. The complete coverage of the area of interest allows for the quantification of ritual funerary activity based on the number of constructed monuments per century. The data show that the intensity of ritual funerary activity was very low and only left marginal traces in the landscape from the Eneolithic Age to the Late Bronze Age. During the Early Iron Age (ca. 850–200 b.c.e.), the basin became a center for construction of burials for social elites of nomadic tribes and the area was rapidly transformed into a landscape of the dead. The Late Iron Age (starting ≈200 b.c.e.) saw a decline of ritual funerary activities in the basin as it became an unimportant side scene to the cultural developments of the wider region.


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pp. 421-452
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