The authors present the discovery of a Han period farming site sealed beneath 5m of flood deposits, where courtyard houses have been excavated belonging to the Western Han Dynasty and Wang Mang period (c. 140 BC–AD 23). Preservation is exceptional, both at the village of Sanyangzhuang itself and, by dint of satellite reconnaissance, over a vast landscape contemporarily covered by the flood. Deep profiles show that here land surfaces of the Neolithic and Warring States periods also lie buried. The potential for the study of the early agricultural sequence and a deeper knowledge of Han society is truly outstanding. The discoveries also offer a vivid account of the way a settlement was overwhelmed by flooding.