Toronto – More than 4,000 years ago, one of the most advanced societies in ancient China, dubbed the “Venice of Stone Age China” for its complex water management system, suddenly disappeared.

- Advertisement -

The reason for the sudden collapse of the city of Liangzhu is not yet clear, but according to a new study published in the journal Science Advances, the city was not destroyed by war or famine, but by an unusually heavy monsoon season, which caused flooding. was filled with Area.

The ruins of Liangzhu City can be found in the Yangtze Delta, about 160 kilometers southwest of Shanghai, the remains of an advanced society that existed about 5,300 years ago.


Liangzhu has only recently been recognized for its archaeological importance, with the United Nations declaring it a World Heritage Site in 2019, but it is one of the earliest societies to display advanced water infrastructure.

The walled city was filled with canals, dams and reservoirs that fed agricultural sites throughout the year. The archeological site was also rich in jade artifacts, with thousands of intricately carved fragments found during excavations.

- Advertisement -

It was previously believed that the flood could have killed the city, but this was not proven.

“A thin layer of soil was found on the preserved ruins, which points to a possible connection between the end of advanced civilization and the flooding of the Yangtze River or flooding from the East China Sea,” said Christoph Spottle, a geologist with the University of Innsbruck and one of the authors of the new research, said in a press release. “No evidence was found for human causes such as conflicts such as war. However, no clear conclusion on the cause was possible from the soil layer itself.”

To confirm that a climatic event caused the end of this society, which had existed for 1,000 years, the researchers dug through archives containing data on caves in the area. Specifically, the data looked at stalactites and stalagmites that were formed from thousands of years of precipitation dripping down from the caves’ ceilings. These cave formations allow researchers to peek into the past and “allow reconstructions of the climatic conditions above the caves as far back as several 100,000 years ago,” the release said.

“These caves have been thoroughly explored over the years,” Spottle said. “They are located in an area affected by the Southeast Asian monsoon as the Yangtze Delta and their stalagmites provide an accurate insight into the timing of the collapse of the Liangzhu culture, which, according to archaeological findings, occurred about 4,300 years ago.”

Between 4,345 and 4,324 years ago, the city and the surrounding area received unusually high levels of rainfall. It was the specific isotopic records of carbon found in cave samples that allowed the researchers to pinpoint at what time this precipitation increased. A laboratory at Xi’an Jiaotong University tested the samples and they were confident that within 30 years plus or minus they had found the time the rain had patted Liangzhu.

Spottle said, “The massive monsoon rains probably caused such severe flooding of the Yangtze and its branches that even sophisticated dams and canals could not cope with these masses of water, destroying the city of Liangzhu and causing people to die.” forced to flee.”