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[Hou-ma]. A city in southwestern Shanxi province, China, where extensive remains of an Eastern Zhou city have been under excavation since 1956. Houma is believed to be the site of Xintian, capital of the Jin state from 584 bc until 453 bc, when Jin was partitioned by Han, Zhao, and Wei. Several thousand stone and jade tablets found at the site in 1965 are inscribed with the texts of alliances between various Eastern Zhou states, and date chiefly from the early 5th century BC. The most important discovery so far made at Houma is a very large foundry complex whose period of activity is assumed to correspond to the time when Xintian was the Jin capital. Over 30,000 fragments of clay moulds and models for casting ritual vessels (some in the Liyu style), chariot fittings, weapons, belt hooks, coins, and other bronzes were distributed over the site in such a way as to suggest that separate workshops specialized in producing particular types of object. The mould fragments make it clear that the basic casting technique used at Houma was still the sectionmould method perfected in Shang foundries a thousand years earlier, as opposed to the cire perdue method. Nevertheless the moulds and models give evidence of a variety of new techniques for decorating bronze (inlaying with metal or semi-precious stones)

The Macmillan dictionary of archaeology, Ruth D. Whitehouse, 1983Copied