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Outburst flood at 1920 BCE supports historicity of China’s Great Flood and the Xia dynasty

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Science  05 Aug 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6299, pp. 579-582
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf0842

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  • RE: the YuanNian of Shang, Xia dynasty and Emperor Yu the Great

    the EMail for the author Shan Ling( for the response titled "the YuanNian of Shang, Xia dynasty and Emperor Yu the Great") is Ling_shan30@hotmail.com, not the Ling_shan30@gmail.com. GMail does not allow email address with "_". so it is a dead email address.

    I just noticed this mistake. please correct this mistake in the eLetter.

    Competing Interests: None declared.
  • The YuanNian of Shang, Xia Dynasty and Emperor Yu the Great

    The elucidation of the mystery of China early civilization especially legendary Xia is the focus of many Chinese scientists and historian and recent paper about the great flood happened in ~BC1920 in Science leads to a wave of discussion1. Actually, that the author proposed the flood is related to Emperor Yu the Great is not consistent to what we have based on archaeology and ancient literature as well as the new chronology provided here2.

    The accurate Chinese history started from year BC841 after the uprising of citizen in Zhou dynasty which destroyed the continuation of history record. In 1982, Dr. David Pankenier found the special celestial event, the clustering of five major planets in BC1059 and determined the date of the war on BC1046 leading to the transition from Shang dynasty to Zhou dynasty3. However, the war leading to the transition from legendary Xia to Shang is still an enigma.

    Based on ancient literature, the first emperor of Shang dynasty, Cheng Tang died at his 13th reign after the war defeated last Emperor Gui(癸) of Xia Dynasty4. At that year there is special calendar event named JiazZi Shuodan Dongzhi(甲子朔旦冬至), i.e. the winter Solstice is at the same day of Shuo, first day of lunar calendar and recorded as JiaZi(甲子) in Ganzi system. There is another famous Jiazi Shuodan Dongzhi in China history on Dec. 25, BC105(actually Shuo day is GuiHai(癸亥), Dec. 24, BC105) when Emperor Han Wu announced a new calendar in the empire. Based on Yin Ca...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.
  • Multiple evidences don’t support the conjecture of China's Great Flood at 1920 BCE
    • Guanghui Dong, teacher, Key Laboratory of Western China’s Environmental Systems (Ministry of Education), Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China
    • Other Contributors:
      • Fanyu Zhang, teacher, Key Laboratory of Mechanics on Disaster and Environment in Western China (Ministry of Education), Department of Geological Engin
      • Fengwen Liu, student, Key Laboratory of Western China’s Environmental Systems (Ministry of Education), Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China
      • Dongju Zhang, teacher, Key Laboratory of Western China’s Environmental Systems (Ministry of Education), Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China
      • Jianye Han, teacher, Department of Archaeology, Renmin University of China, Beijing 100872, China
      • Gonghui Wang, researcher, Research Center on Landslides, Disaster Prevention Research Institute, Kyoto University, Gokasho, Uji 611-0011, Japan
      • Fahu Chen, teacher, Key Laboratory of Western China’s Environmental Systems (Ministry of Education), Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China

    Wu et al. in Science August 5, 2016, 579 argued that an earthquake in around 1920 BCE destroyed the Lajia archaeological site, and induced the formation of a huge dammed lake in the Jishixia Gorge (JSX) in the upper Yellow River valley in China, and the subsequent release of the lake provides a scientific basis for the historicity of China’s Great Flood and the Xia Dynasty (1). However, these series of geological and historical events in this paper are proved to be independent, non-synchronous events by careful scrutiny of the data presented in the paper and previous studies. Chronological data obtained from the ancient dammed lake sediments in JSX demonstrate that the dam disappeared before 3600 BC (2, 3), significantly predates the F4 dwelling of the Lajia site that was deemed to have been destroyed around 1920 BCE in Wu et al (1). The charcoal ages (2900-1900 BCE) of the suggested outburst flood sediments in earthquake fissures reported by Wu et al. (1) can only indicate that paleoearthquake at the Lajia site occurred later than 1900 BCE. Moreover, human remains in house F7 next to F4 were dislocated by a ground fissure (4), further suggesting earthquake occurred later than the destruction of F4 in Lajia site. Actually, earlier research (5) has revealed that the prehistoric humans in F4 were killed as a direct result of a disastrous mudflow from the northern mountains of the Guanting Basin. These evidence doesn’t support Wu et al.’s assumption that paleoearthquake destr...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.
  • RE:

    The radiocarbon dates cited by the authors yield a calibrated age for the mega-flood which preceded the founding of the Xia Dynasty with a median of 1922 ±28 BCE (1 SD) and a 95% CL of 1976 to 1882 BCE. That being so it is more than a little surprising that they neglect to mention crucial astronomical evidence bearing on the founding of the Xia, which I have systematically presented since 1983 when I first published the connection between the the Xia founding and the densest cluster of the five visible planets in human history, that of February 1953 BCE. As early as the mid-2nd millennium BCE, texts such as the Mozi explicitly link Yu the Great’s flood management exploits and the Xia founding with the astral sign. The extensive cultural ramifications of cosmology and planetary omens in early China are discussed in detail in my ASTROLOGY AND COSMOLOGY IN EARLY CHINA: CONFORMING EARTH TO HEAVEN (Cambridge UP, 2013). For the astronomical chronology of the Three Dynasties in the 2nd millennium BCE and the connection between astral omens and the ancient doctrine of the Mandate of Heaven in China, in particular, interested readers are referred to the following:
    “Mozi and the Dates of Xia, Shang, and Zhou: A Research Note,” Early China 9-10 (1983-85): 175-83.
    “Astronomical Observations in the Three Dynasties Period and the Origin of Five Phases Correlative Theory” (in Chinese), in Yinxu bowuyuan yuankan 1.1 (1989): 183-188.
    “Astrological Origins of Chinese Dynas...

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    Competing Interests: None declared.