Yan Ni, leader of an all-woman archaeological team, conducts preliminary restoration of a pottery article at the site of a relics excavation project in Fuling District, southwest China's Chongqing, Oct. 19, 2022. (Xinhua/Tang Yi)
CHONGQING, March 9 (Xinhua) -- Archaeologist Yan Ni was glad of the recent rain, as it made the soil softer, allowing her and her teammates to unearth relics with greater ease.
"The drought since last year made the soil at the excavation site hard and difficult to explore. With this rain, the upcoming work will be much easier," she said.
With short hair and tanned skin, Yan Ni is the leader of the women's archaeological team at the institute of cultural relics and archaeology in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality.
Established in 2012, the all-woman team has carried out more than 10 excavation projects and organized field work on over 10 cultural relic investigation and exploration projects over the past decade.
For a long time, due to the physical nature of much field work, archaeologists were mostly male. But in recent years, more female archaeologists have become involved in field work, demonstrating their qualities of persistence and responsibility.
After lunch, Zhu Xuelian, a 46-year-old team member, sat at a computer and carefully drew an image of a pottery object with complex ornamentation.
Zhu Xuelian, a member of an all-woman archaeological team, measures an unearthed article at the site of a relics excavation project in Fuling District, southwest China's Chongqing, Oct. 19, 2022. (Xinhua/Tang Yi)
Zhu said that the team's work covers a wide range of tasks, including field excavation, scientific and technological archaeology, artifact restoration and drawing.
"Archaeological drawing is an important link in the collation of archaeological data, and one needs to be able to withstand loneliness," said Zhu, adding that once she is immersed in her work, she can sit at the computer all day. "If I need to draw complicated objects, I can only complete two objects a day," she said.
In the course of a year, the team members can spend more than 200 days doing archaeological work in the field, spending the rest of the time studying their achievements and writing reports.
"Excavation is the most basic part of archaeological work," said Zhu. "Follow-up research work, such as restoration and drawing, should be carried out to release research results to the public, which can bring cultural relics to life."
During major excavation work, the teammates eat and live together, learn from each other and continuously improve. The original nine members of the team have grown into experts in their respective fields.
Ma Xiaojiao, who joined in 2011, and Li Feng, who has worked there since 2014, are engaged in plant archaeology and animal archaeology, respectively, filling their institutes' gap in researchers in those fields.
"We nine can now independently lead the team to conduct investigations and excavations, and some people are also training their own apprentices," said Yan.
Chongqing authorities have recently initiated a field archaeology training course in the city, featuring more than 10 staff working in related fields, with more than half of the participants being female.
Yan Ni (L, back), leader of an all-woman archaeological team, supervises her colleagues at the site of a relics excavation project in Fuling District, southwest China's Chongqing, May 24, 2022. (Xinhua/Tang Yi)
Xiang Jinglu, a "post-90s" employee at the museum of Chongqing's Fuling District said she feels fresh every day. "I have never been to the field before. But now, I can be in charge of an excavation project under the guidance of teachers during this field training. I am so excited," she said.
"When I first joined the work, there were fewer female archaeologists in our institute, but nowadays, there are new women every year. China has attached great importance to archaeological work, and it is foreseeable that more women who love archaeology and love the field work will join us in the future," Yan said. ■