PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2018, Vol. 37 ›› Issue (3): 438-449.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2018.03.014

• Articles • Previous Articles    

GIS-based analysis of traffic routes and regional division of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau in prehistoric period

Yan ZHU1(), Guangliang HOU1,2,*(), Cuozhuoma LAN3, Jingyi GAO1, Longhui PANG1   

  1. 1. School of Geography Science, Qinghai Normal University, Xi'ning 810008, China
    2. Physical Geography and Environmental Process Key Laboratory of Qinghai Province, Xi'ning 810008, China
    3. School of Finance and Economics, Qinghai University, Xi'ning 810016, China
  • Received:2017-09-26 Revised:2017-11-16 Online:2018-03-28 Published:2018-03-28
  • Contact: Guangliang HOU;
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41761018;Natural Science Fund Project of Science and Technology Department of Qinghai Province, No.2017-ZJ-903


The environment of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is harsh, but it is not a restricted area for life. Evidence suggests that humans have entered the plateau area during the last deglacial period, and formed relatively stable patterns of traffic routes through long-term practices. Through the construction of a natural factor simulation-site distribution correction method and using GIS tools, this study obtained the traffic route simulation results of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in the prehistoric period and verified the results with archaeological evidence. The plateau area is divided into four regions based on the simulation results, namely: the northeast, southeast, southwest, and northwest regions. The routes site density of the northeast region is high and the number of sites falling into these routes accounted for 88.56% of the total number of sites in this area. The earliest routes were formed during the paleolithic period and are in the east-west direction. These routes and closely linked within the region and reach out to the Loess Plateau and the northern area of China. The formation and development of these routes laid the foundation for the spread of pottery, wheat, and millet and the emergence of the Silk Road. The direction of the routes is north-south in the southeast region. The northern part of the routes connects the upper reach of the Yellow River, and the southern part of the routes connects the Sichuan Basin and Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau. The routes strengthen the cultural exchanges between the south and the north, and are the large corridors of national integration and communication. The southwest region is located in the center of the plateau. The routes of this area reflect the conquest of the main body in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. The total length of the routes is about 4600 km and is the longest in the three regions. The routes are the second important corridor for humans to enter the plateau. The northwest region mainly consists of alpine desert and its natural environment is unsuitable for human survival, so the area is void of prehistoric traffic routes.

Key words: traffic routes, archeological site, simulation, GIS, Qinghai-Tibet Plateau