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考古发现大洪水证据,夏朝存在或非神话

更新时间:2016-8-7 10:22:08 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Scientific Evidence of Flood May Give Credence to Legend of China’s First Dynasty
考古发现大洪水证据,夏朝存在或非神话

Scientists have found evidence of a catastrophic flood that overwhelmed the upper Yellow River valley in China some 4,000 years ago, an event that they say may confirm the historical basis of China’s semi-legendary first dynasty.

科学家已经找到了约4000年前黄河上游地区被一场特大洪水淹没的证据,他们说这一事件或许为半传奇色彩的首个中国王朝提供了历史依据。

Ancient Chinese texts record a mix of historical events and legends. Some records, such as those relating to China’s second and third dynasties, were confirmed in surprising detail when archaeologists turned up inscriptions on oracle bones and ancient bronzes.

中国古籍中记载着各种各样的历史事件和传奇。当考古学家破解了甲骨和古代青铜器上的铭文时,有些记录——比如与中国的第二个及第三个朝代有关的那些——得到了极为翔实的佐证。

But records of the first dynasty, that of the Xia, contain stories of a Great Flood with a Noah-like savior, the Emperor Yu, who gained the mandate of heaven after dredging canals to dispel the floodwaters and make the land safe. Historians have long wondered whether this flood account was a creation-style myth, the folk memory of a real event, or some mixture of the two. Some have dismissed the story of Emperor Yu as a fiction intended to justify centralized rule and, in the absence of any evidence of a massive flood at the time, many have regarded the stories of the Xia dynasty as more myth than history.

但关于中国第一个朝代夏朝的记录,涉及一场大洪水以及诺亚般的救世主禹帝的故事,在疏通河道,驱退洪水,保一方平安后,他受天命成为帝王。历史学家一直想要弄清,关于这场洪水的记载到底是创世神话还是一场真实事件的民间记忆,又或者是两者兼而有之。一些人把关于禹帝的故事斥为旨在为中央集权统治辩护的虚构作品。此外,由于当时缺乏能证明发生过大洪水的证据,许多人都把关于夏朝的故事当成传说而非历史来看待。

A team of archaeologists and geologists led by Qinglong Wu of Peking University in Beijing has now discovered evidence of a massive flood that they say could be the Great Flood mentioned in the Chinese annals.

由北京大学的吴庆龙领导的一个考古学家和地质学家团队,现在已经找到发生过一场大规模洪水的证据,他们说这可能就是一些中国史书提到的那场大洪水。

The setting for the flood was a landslide, caused by an earthquake, that planted a massive natural dam across the Yellow River where it travels through the Jishi Gorge after emerging from the Tibetan plateau. To judge from the remaining sidewalls, the researchers wrote in Friday’s issue of Science, the dam would have risen some 800 feet above the river’s present level.

洪水之所以发生,是因为地震引起山体滑坡,形成了一道横跨黄河的巨型天然堤坝,从青藏高原流过来的黄河水,本应在那里穿过积石峡。研究人员在周五发表于《科学》(Science)杂志的文章中称,从现存的侧壁判断,那道堤坝比黄河当前的水位高出约800英尺(约合240米)。

For six to nine months, Dr. Wu’s team estimates, the river ceased to flow as water accumulated in the new lake behind the dam. Then, as the water overtopped the dam’s crest, the dam rapidly gave way, releasing up to 3.8 cubic miles of water, one of the largest known floods in the last 10,000 years. The outburst flood wave could have traveled as far as 1,250 miles downstream, breaking the river’s natural banks, causing extensive flooding and even making the Yellow River switch course.

据吴庆龙的团队推测,在6至9个月里,黄河完全被堵塞,河水都汇聚在坝体后边新形成的堰塞湖里。接着,坝体在湖水漫过坝顶之际迅速溃决,释放了最多可达3.8立方英里(约合15.8立方公里)的湖水,这是过去一万年以来已知的规模最大的洪水之一。溃坝洪水可能向下游奔涌了1250英里(约合2000公里)之远,冲毁了黄河的天然河岸,令许多地方被淹,甚至导致了黄河改道。

Floods are often hard to date. But the same earthquake that dammed the river provided a date by destroying a village called Lajia some 16 miles downstream. Fissures caused by the earthquake are completely filled with sediment from the outburst flood, with no annual deposit of the windblown earth that is common in the region, which means the flood occurred the same year as the earthquake, Dr. Wu’s team says.

洪水通常是很难定年的。但是造成黄河堵塞的那场地震还摧毁了下游约16英里处的喇家村,这就提供了关于时间的信息。地震造成的裂隙里,填满了来自溃坝洪水的沉积物,但却看不到当地典型的风成土堆积,吴庆龙的团队说,这意味着洪水和地震是在同一年发生的。

Radiocarbon dating of the bones of three children killed by the earthquake establish that the event took place around 1920 B.C.

用放射性碳测年法对在地震中丧生的三名儿童的遗骸进行检测后,研究者确定洪水大约发生在公元前1920年。

The date offers a striking temporal link to the Xia dynasty which, if it existed, is thought to have begun at this time. A modern Chinese chronology project sets the beginning of the dynasty at 2070 B.C. Even closer, two scholars working from Chinese astronomical records — a statement that there was a close conjunction of five planets early in the reign of the Emperor Yu — have calculated that the dynasty began in 1914 B.C.

该日期与夏朝有着明显的时间上的联系,有人认为,如果夏朝存在的话,应该就是在这一时期建立的。根据中国当代的一项断代工程,夏朝始于公元前2070年。有一个说法还要更接近,两名学者通过研究中国的天文记录——据记载在禹帝统治初期,出现过一次五大行星会聚的现象——得出结论,夏朝始于公元前1914年。

Chinese annals record that Emperor Yu contrived a recovery from the Great Flood by dredging drainage canals rather than trying to repair breaches in the Yellow River’s dikes, as his predecessor had done. He also laid the foundations for the Chinese civilization that followed by specifying which regions should send tribute. The place where he began his operations is recorded as Jishi, which has the same Chinese characters as that of the gorge where the landslide dam occurred.

据中国史书记载,禹帝是通过疏通河道成功治水的,而不是像他的前任那样,试图修复黄河堤岸的决口。他还为华夏文明奠定了基础,并对各地的进贡做出了规定。据记载,大禹治水的起点是“积石”,与曾有滑坡坝存在的那个峡谷同名。

Dr. Wu’s team said its reconstruction of the outburst flood from the Jishi Gorge showed that the ancient textual accounts of the Great Flood “may well be rooted in a historic natural event.” The finding also supports the idea, the researchers say, that archaeological remains found at Erlitou, a site about 1,550 miles downstream from the gorge, may have been the Xia capital, given that the Erlitou culture dates to 1900 B.C., the same time as the Jishi Gorge flood.

吴庆龙的团队表示,他们对积石峡洪水的模拟重现显示出,古代对大洪水的描述“很可能是基于历史上的一个自然事件”。研究人员表示,这个发现也支持了这样一种观念:考虑到二里头文化可以追溯至公元前1900年,与积石峡大洪水爆发的时间吻合,所以位于积石峡下游约1550英里处的考古发现二里头遗址,有可能就是夏朝的首都。

But historians may require more evidence before signing on to the team’s thesis. It is not so clear how a folk memory of the flood could have been accurately maintained for at least 900 years, as Dr. Wu’s team suggested, given that elements in the texts may begin as early as 1,000 years ago. There were probably many floods, which may have been conflated in popular memory, said Sarah Allan, a historian of ancient China at Dartmouth College. In her view, the Great Flood described in the ancient texts is a myth to explain how the world was made, not a historical event.

不过,历史学家们需要更多的证据才能采纳该团队的这一假设。目前还不太清楚,有关一场大洪水的民间记忆如何能像吴庆龙的团队所认为的那样,被精确地维持了至少900年,因为文字记载的事可能是1000年前发生的。美国达特茅斯学院(Dartmouth College)研究古代中国的历史学家艾兰(Sarah Allan)表示,可能爆发过多次洪水,它们在大众记忆中被混淆了。在她看来,古书中描述的大洪水是一个解释世界如何形成的神话,而不是一个历史事件。

“The story begins with water everywhere and the problem is how to make the world habitable,” she said. Even if the myth was centered on a real event, it is a reach to associate this with the Jishi Gorge flood or the flood with the Erlitou culture, she said.

“这个故事的开头讲到世界上到处都是水,当时的问题是如何让这个世界变得适于人类居住,”她说。她还表示,即便神话是基于一个真实的事件,也不见得就能与积石峡洪水或二里头文化中的洪水联系起来。

Paul Goldin, who studies China’s Warring States period at the University of Pennsylvania, also sees the stories of Yu and the Great Flood as unlikely to represent historical events. And they date mostly to the fourth century B.C., long after the Jishi Gorge flood. “These are relatively late legends that were propagated for philosophical and political reasons, and it’s inherently questionable to suppose that they represent some dim memory of the past,” he said.

在宾夕法尼亚大学(University of Pennsylvania)研究战国历史的金鹏程(Paul Goldin)也认为,大禹和大洪水的故事不太可能是对历史事件的描述。这些故事大多追溯到公元前四世纪,而积石峡洪水发生的时间要早得多。“这些是比较晚一些的传说,因一些哲学和政治因素被传播开来,去假定它们描绘了过去的一些模糊记忆,本身就是有问题的,”他说。

Dr. Goldin remarked on a “kind of fixation” in Chinese archaeology “to prove all the ancient texts and legends have some fundamental truth, which is an overreaction to an earlier period when they were rejected as myth. It shouldn’t be every archaeologist’s first instinct to see if their findings are matched in the historical sources,” he said.

金鹏程谈到了中国考古界的一种“执迷”,即他们试图“证明所有的古老文本和传说都有一些基本的真实性。这是对此前一段时间它们被贬为神话的一种过激反应。考古学家的第一反应不应该是去探究自己的发现是否与史料匹配,”他说。

The Jishi Gorge flood occurred at a pivotal time in Chinese history, the boundary between the Neolithic Age and the Bronze Age that followed. Dr. Wu’s team said at a news conference on Wednesday that the story of Yu taming the flood represents the emergence of a new political order. The archaeological record shows some sort of a decline, as would be expected after a great catastrophe, followed in the Bronze Age, first seen in the Erlitou culture, by new levels of development, a large increase in the size of cities, the development of writing and workshops manufacturing bronze.

积石峡洪水发生在中国历史上一个关键的时期,介于新石器时代和之后的青铜器时代之间。吴庆龙的团队在周三举行的一场新闻发布会上表示,大禹治水的故事代表一种新的政治秩序的出现。从考古纪录可以看到某种衰落,在一场大灾难之后,这是可以想象的,到了青铜器时代,发展达到了一个新的层次,最早可见于二里头文化,城市规模大幅增加,文字以及制造青铜器的作坊得到发展。

“If they can show some kind of connection in the archaeological record between the Jishi Gorge flood and the emergence of a culture like Erlitou, that would be a major improvement of our understanding of history,” Dr. Goldin said.

“如果他们能在考古记录中展现积石峡洪水和二里头等文化的出现之间存在某种联系,那将大大提升我们对历史的理解,”金鹏程说。

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