Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2016, Vol. 71 ›› Issue (9): 1629-1639.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201609013

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Spatial and temporal modes of prehistoric settlement distribution around Songshan Mountain

Peng LU1(), Yan TIAN1, Panpan CHEN1, Duowen MO2()   

  1. 1. Institute of Geography, Henan Academy of Sciences, Zhengzhou 450052, China
    2. College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
  • Received:2016-01-13 Revised:2016-04-18 Online:2016-11-25 Published:2016-11-25
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41671014, No.41201414, No.41171006;The Major Plan of National Social Science Foundation of China, No.11&ZD183;The Major Project of Songshan Mountain Culture Research Society


Spatial and temporal distribution patterns are very important for recognizing the formation and development of ancient civilizations. Indeed, different prehistoric settlement distribution modes, including 'centralized', 'average', and 'stochastic', correspond with different social organizations, site-choices, and human choice of, and adaptation to, the environment. By implementing GIS spatial and model analyses, the aim of this research was to study the spatial distributional patterns, mechanisms of formation, and evolution of the prehistoric settlements (9000-3000 years before present, aBP), which are located around Songshan Mountain. These settlements are grouped into four periods, namely the Peiligang Culture (9000-7000 aBP), the Yangshao Culture (7000-5000 aBP), the Longshan Culture (5000-4000 aBP), and the Xia-Shang Culture (4000-3000 aBP). Indeed, on the basis of this research a new model for explaining prehistoric settlement distribution was developed and applied, leading to three main results. First, prehistoric settlement distribution patterns for all four periods are centralized around Songshan Mountain. The Peiligang and Xia-Shang settlements had two cluster centers, respectively, while the Yangshao and Longshan settlements had three cluster centers each. Second, the distributional center of gravity for prehistoric settlements in this region presents migration from south to north, while Peiligang period settlements were mainly distributed to the south of Songshan Mountain, by the Yangshao period, the main concentration of settlements had begun to move northwards. This trend continued into the Longshan period, before finally differentiating along an east-west transect to the north of Songshan Mountain in the Xia-Shang period. Third, results show that the pattern and evolution of prehistoric settlement distributions were closely related to prevailing environmental conditions and human cultural developments. Indeed, because the main economy of the Peiligang period was hunting, fishing and gathering, most settlements at this time were either distributed on hills, near the mountain, on the high platform, or close to water. In the mid-Holocene, warm and moist weather conditions exerted a significant impact on the southern plain, and high and flat geomorphologic units closer to the mountain became ideal locations for settlements in the Yangshao and Longshan periods. By the time of the Xia-Shang periods, social organization had become more complex, so settlements began to concentrate intensively around the capital region. As a result, the area north of Songshan Mountain became the core region of settlement distribution.

Key words: Songshan Mountain area, prehistoric settlement, spatial and temporal modes of distribution, spatial analysis, formation mechanisms