The Panmiao 潘庙 Site (Shangqiu County 商丘县), excavated in the spring of 1994, features a number of stone-lined and hollow-brick tombs of the Warring States 战国 and Han periods. Unlike most of the other known Neolithic sites in the region, which were situated on now-buried natural rises or mounds (allowing them to be visible today through the deep, blanketing alluvium still slightly elevated above the present plain), the Panmiao site was situated on the lowland of the flood plain at the time of its earliest habitation, during the Longshan 龙山 Culture period (ca. 2500-1900 BC). Panmiao’s location demonstrates that people indeed inhabited the flood plain during the Late Neolithic and early Bronze Age periods.
Following the Longshan period occupation, Panmiao has a Yueshi 岳石 Culture component dating to the early Bronze Age period (ca. 1900-1450 BC). Along with Yueshi Culture finds from the Shantaisi 山台寺 site, these materials are extremely important in terms of understanding the material culture of the Shangqiu region at the time of the original settlement of Great City Shang. A debate has arisen as to whether or not it is possible that Shang peoples could have resided in an area in which the Yueshi Culture is found, as remains of the Yueshi Culture, in some archaeologists’ eyes, have come to be equated with an early ethnic group from the east known as the Dong Yi 东夷, or Eastern Yi. The drawing of rigid social boundaries around material culture groups in this type of “culture-historical” approach compels many archaeologists in China to exclude a Shang presence from any area in which the Yueshi culture is found. As David Cohen (2001) argues, such an exclusion fails to recognize the complexities of the interrelationships between material culture patterning and social identity, the deep cultural roots of the Shang founders in the eastern cultural sphere (which included the Yueshi Culture), and the distinct possibility that there was no salient “Eastern Yi” identity (especially one opposed to a “Shang” identity) during the Yueshi Culture period.
The Panmiao site’s early cultural remains were heavily disturbed by a densely packed cemetery of the Eastern Zhou through Han periods, with graves primarily from the Warring States period. Forty-four graves were identified within the 180 square meters opened at the site, many of them with large pits, coffin chambers with second-level shelves, rammed earth fill, and/or featuring impressed hollow-brick construction. The Panmiao cemetery may also be contemporaneous with the later part of the occupation of the walled City Song found nearby.