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The Pointed Bottom Bottle: An Ancient Instrument for Monitoring Earth-air

The pointed bottom bottle (PBB) is a specific type of pottery with a pointed bottom widely produced in the Yangshao culture (7000–5000 BP) of prehistoric China. Since its discovery, opinions vary regarding its usage and purpose of design. Monitoring the air pressure enclosed in the PBB, this paper potentially reveals its usage and a possible reason for such a unique shape: it is an instrument of monitoring the earth-air by the general public as a practice of hou-qi. Ancient Chinese buried the PBB under the earthen floor in a sheltered room. Due to a moderate size of the room, daily temperature fluctuation of the earthen floor was limited, and the height of PBB was consistent with the depth of the earthen layer with a daily temperature change. However, using PBB to define solar terms on a yearly basis could have been interfered by the daily temperature variation of soil. Ancient people took advantage of the large daily temperature variation in the top layer of the soil and the small fluctuations with a hysteresis of ~12 hours in the lower layer, so that the temperature changes in upper and lower levels of soil exist in different directions. This counterbalances the interference of daily temperature response on pressure through spatial and temporal differences of temperature fluctuations in upper and lower parts inside PBB. The PBB can further eliminate the influence of daily fluctuation peaks of the atmospheric pressure, making changes in air pressure inside the bottle completely following the yearly temperature, functioning as farming seasonal guidance.

Pointed Bottom Bottle, Earth-Air, Yangshao Culture, Hou-Qi

APA Style

Hongshou Li, Fei Li, Shunren Wang. (2023). The Pointed Bottom Bottle: An Ancient Instrument for Monitoring Earth-air. International Journal of Archaeology, 11(2), 22-36.

ACS Style

Hongshou Li; Fei Li; Shunren Wang. The Pointed Bottom Bottle: An Ancient Instrument for Monitoring Earth-air. Int. J. Archaeol. 2023, 11(2), 22-36. doi: 10.11648/j.ija.20231102.12

AMA Style

Hongshou Li, Fei Li, Shunren Wang. The Pointed Bottom Bottle: An Ancient Instrument for Monitoring Earth-air. Int J Archaeol. 2023;11(2):22-36. doi: 10.11648/j.ija.20231102.12

Copyright © 2023 Authors retain the copyright of this article.
This article is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License ( which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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