Excavated by:：the Archaeology Department of North-west University; the Xinjiang Cultural Relics and Archaeology Institute; the Local Bureau for Preservation of Cultural Relics of Hami.
Excavation team leader:：Wang Jianxin
A joint archaeological team from the Archaeology Department of North-west University in Lanzhou and the Xinjiang Cultural Relics and Archaeology Institute discovered what they have described as 'the largest settlement site of an ancient nomadic culture found in China to date' covering an 8.75 sq km area north of Dongheigou in Shirenzi-xiang, Balikun Kazak Autonomous County, Xinjiang.
The team has been engaged in archaeological work in this area since 2005. Scattered across this large tract of land are what are described as three large 'sacrificial terraces,' the foundations of 140 stone enclosed dwellings, ten ancient graves and 2,485 examples of rock art. The rock illustrations are described as scenes of individual and collective hunting, as well as scenes coyly defined as documenting 'fertility worship of matriarchal and patriarchal periods'. One illustration shows a man wearing a tall fan-shaped hat, with what might be either a bow and quiver or a water container strapped around his waist, although the man's three legs are said to 'indicate unusual strength'.
Excavation of the sacrificial terrace began in July 2006. The centre of the quadrilateral terrace is covered with small round pebbles and larger pebbles surround the altar on all four sides. There is a large fire pit on the terrace and to its eastern side there are 15 large 'stone querns.' Many pottery shards were found in the fire pit and on the surrounding surface.
Remains of fireplaces were also found in some of the dwellings, together with pottery shards and animal bones. A human skeleton suggests that it may have been a sacrificial offering. The comprehensive site appears to have been occupied over a very long period of time, but archaeologists are not yet hazarding a guess at the date of the site.