[Special section on the Yiluo project] SOIL MICROMORPHOLOGY, CHEMISTRY AND MAGNETIC SUSCEPTIBILITY STUDIES AT HUIZUI (YILUO REGION, HENAN PROVINCE, NORTHERN CHINA), WITH SPECIAL FOCUS ON A TYPICAL YANGSHAO FLOOR SEQUENCE
Abstract31 thin sections and 25 bulk samples were investigated from Huizui (Loess Plateau of northern China) creating a broad, albeit limited, dataset for the Peiligang, Yangshao, Longshan and Erlitou Periods. The study provides punctuated insights into the occupational and landscape history of the site. These are briefly reported in order to examine, in context, some details of a typical Yangshao Period floor sequence (11 layers). Here, ground-raising was achieved mainly through constructing layers of planttempered adobe, manufactured from `clean' loess that is present at Huizui. A dark, `red' coloured mud-plastered surface was made at the top of the adobe layers, to underlie each `white' floor. Contrary to expectation, soil micromorphology found that the `white' floors are not `burned lime' floors, but single and multiple quarried slabs of fossiliferous tabular formed tufa, of likely Quaternary age and local origin; a finding consistent with bulk analyses. As these slabs appear to be at least 3-4 m in size their quarrying and transport imply a high degree of social organization. No Yangshao occupation floor deposits were found, suggesting that either floors were of ritual use or were swept or mat-covered. An example of an off-site gleyed, Yangshao to Longshan soil-sediment sequence, containing anthropogenic inclusions, was found to overlie the local truncated grey, gleyed, and archaeologically sterile Late Pleistocene/Early Holocene alluvial soil.