Monday, December 18, 2006

Protected Sites:Machangyuan Site

Machangyuan Site is located in Minhe County of Qinghai Province.

Machangyuan Site, lying in the upper reaches of the Yellow River, comprises the ruins of the Majiayao Culture of the late Neolithic Age. First discovered in the autumn of 1924, the site dates back to 2200-2000BC, according to archaeological studies.

Two tombs were unearthed during the 1924 excavation, including four pieces of colored pottery. One of the items, decorated with four big ring-shaped patterns, is an earthen jar with a small mouth, wide shoulders and two ears. Two others are double-eared pots adorned with vertical and horizontal lines. The remaining piece a bowl decorated with colored patterns in the shape of lightening bolts inside. The discovered tombs had been severely damaged.

Such wares were usually made of coarse pottery and have simple decorations, such as red and black stripes or red stripes with black edges -- most of them homochromous. Apart from striped patterns, decorations also include spiral or diamond patterns.

Protected Sites:City Site in the State of Loulan

The Ancient City of Loulan is located on the west banks of the Lop Nur Lake in Ruoqiang County, Bayinguole in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

The city occupied a very significant position on the Silk Road leading to the West during the Han Dynasty (206BC-AD220) and played an important role in promoting cultural exchanges between the East and the West. However, the city was later swallowed up by the desert. There are no historical documents recording the exact location of the ancient city, which has been buried for thousands of years. Reputed as the Pompeii in the desert, the city became a mystery of Chinese history.

In the spring of 1900, the Swedish explorer Sven Hedin accidentally discovered a huge Buddhist pagoda and the ruins of an ancient city that proved to be the Ancient City of Loulan. In 1979 and 1980, Xinjiang archaeologists carried out many excavations at the site.

The Ancient City of Loulan is located 89"55"-89"22" east longitude and 40"45"-40"55" north latitude. The city is an irregular square shape with the east wall stretching along 333 meters; the south wall, 329 meters; and the west and north walls, 327 meters each. There are gaps in the center of the south and north walls that were probably used as gates.

The tallest construction inside the city is a 10.4-meter-high Buddhist pagoda in the east of the city. The pagoda was built using adobe mixed with timber and has a square-shaped base about 19.5 meters long on each side. Five kilometers northwest of the ancient city is a 12-meter-high beacon tower made of clay and timber.

The most special construction site inside the city is the three-room site located in the middle. These three rooms are the only structures made from adobe. Sitting in the north and facing south, the rooms have wooden houses at their east and west ends. With traces of red paint, some of the timbers are 6.4 meters long. The rooms' location and the architectural style suggest they were the site of the Loulan government office.

The constructions in the residential area southwest of the city have long perished. There is an ancient tunnel, however, stretching from the east to the west through the compound which archeologists believe served as a water source for Loulan residents.

Ruins of Buddhist temples, a beacon fire and tombs were also unearthed around the city, including a large number of cultural relics, such as a 5-zhu coin (24 zhu=1 liang, or 0.05 kilograms) from the Han Dynasty, coins from the Tang Dynasty (618-907), remnants of bamboo slips with Han and Khatoshthi characters, silk and wool fabrics, lacquers, wooden wares, jade ware, bronze ware and fragments of glass ware. Many excavated items, which were not made in the Central Plain areas, provide important materials for the study of the transportation and cultural exchanges between the East and the West, as well as the historical relationship between border areas and China's inland.

Protected Sites: Liulihe Site

Liulihe Site is located on the mesa on the banks of the Dashi River, 1.5 kilometers north of Liulihe Town in Fangshan District, Beijing.

As an important site of the early Western Zhou Dynasty (11th century-771 BC), Liulihe was first discovered by Chinese archaeologists in the 1940s. Excavations at the site were carried out in 1973.

The site covers an area of about 500 square meters, with remnants of the north wall topping 800 meters in length and the east and 300 meters along the west walls. The wall, built with solid tampered earth, is about 10 meters wide. Surrounded with an outside moat, the city has a large number of densely distributed foundations inside. A noble burial area stretches across the southeast of the city, covering an area of over 50,000 square meters. To date, over 200 tombs of nobles have been unearthed, including tombs containing bodies that were buried with the dead and pits with vehicles and horses. Also unearthed at the site are various cultural relics, including bonze, jade and bone ware. Most of the bronze ware display carved inscriptions.

The Liulihe Site, as the ruins of the capital of the Yan State in the early Western Zhou Dynasty, provides important material for the study of the early history of the Yan State.

Protected Sites:Fossil Site of Lama Ape Man

The Fossil Site of the Lama Ape man is located on Miaoshan Mountain in Shihuiba Village, nine kilometers northeast of Lufeng County in Yunnan Province.

The site covers an area of over 20,000 square meters, with a fossil deposit about five meters thick. Many excavations were carried out at the site between 1975 and 1982 where over 1,000 Lama Ape man and Xiwa Ape man fossils were unearthed. Among the fossils are skulls, jawbones, limb bones and teeth, including a near-complete jawbone with 12 teeth (frontal teeth, canines and premolars). Also unearthed at the site are fossils of over 10 species of animals, such as three-toed horse, rhinoceros and antelope.

The first skull fossil of the Lama Ape man was discovered on April 9, 1980. The Lama Ape man was the transitional form in the evolution from ape to man, and possessed many features of early, primitive man. Dating back over 8 million years, the Lama Ape man was reputed as the ancestor of human beings. The discovery of the Lama Ape-man filled the gap in the evolutionary process between the Kaiyuan Ape man that existed 15 million years ago and the Yuanmou Man of 1.7 million years ago. The discovery provides important insight into the study of the Ape Man's position in the evolutionary cycle and the time and place of human origin.

Protected Sites:Juyan Site

Juyan Site spreads across Jinta County of Gansu Province and the Erjina Banner of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

Juyan is the site of the beacon towers and walls of the frontier fortress under Ju Yan and Jian Shui of the Zhangye prefecture during the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD). The frontier fortress stretches from the northeast to the southwest, with a total length of about 250 kilometers. Built in 102BC, it was abandoned in the late Eastern Han (25-220). The frontier fortress acted as a strategic pathway to the West and a barrier along the Gansu Corridor. It also played an important role in severing the connection between the Huns and the Qiangs, and held a special position in the Han strategy towards the Huns.

During excavations in 1930, over 10,000 bamboo and wooden slips were unearthed from the Han Dynasty. Between 1972 and 1976, another 20,000 slips were unearthed at the Pochengzi Jiaqu Palace Site, the fourth beacon-fire tower ruins of the Jiaqu and Jianshui Jinguan Site. These three sites all have their own special features, providing important clues to forming a comprehensive understanding of the architectural style of beacon-fire towers of the Han Dynasty.

The Pochengzi Jiaqu Palace Site comprises constructions of the Zhang and Wu, both located in the northwest. Covering an area of 23.3 square meters, the small castle contains houses, kitchen ranges and sties. Unearthed cultural relics include bows, arrows, bronze arrowheads and armor, together with iron farm implements, tools and various daily articles.

The fourth beacon tower of Jiaqu is very large; it has a remnant 3.4 meters high. The cone-shaped tower is made of tampered earth on an eight-meter-long base on each side. In the southwest corner of the beacon tower is a kitchen range with a chimney where smoke was released into the sky in emergencies.

The Jianshui Jinguan Site is built on a mountain pass and contains a large number of cultural relics, such as knives, swords and arrowheads; fragments of clothing made of silk, gunny, hide and leather; and torches used for igniting the beacon fire. These findings reflect the military activities of the period.

Han slips found at the site provide a wide range of records that can be applied to many fields, including politics, military affairs, the economy, culture, science and technology, law, philosophy, religion and different ethnic groups. They not only recorded military activities in the Juyan area, but also kept official documents from the mid-Western Han to early Eastern Han periods, providing important materials for the study of Han history and culture.

Protected Sites:Juntai Jun Kiln Site

The Juntai Jun Kiln Site is located in Yu County of Henan Province.

Jun Kiln was one of the famous Five Kilns of the Song Dynasty (960-1279). Discovered in 1951, the site underwent excavations in 1962 and 1973 that identified the area as a kiln site which made pottery for the imperial palace. The site flourished during the reign of Emperor Huizong of the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127).

Jun Kiln spreads over a vast area topping 300,000 square meters with densely distributed kilns. It served as a workshop that was operated by the local government. To date, 11 stoves were unearthed, including workshop sites and ash pits. The stoves were arranged in a line with the workshop at the center, ensuring the whole working procedure ran smoothly. The structure of the stove and baking method facilitated heating control and enabled the temperature to reach 1,200 C.

Potteries from the site come in many varieties, such as Jun porcelain, Ru porcelain, Yingqing porcelain, Tianmu porcelain and others with white backgrounds and black patterns. The wares are bright and elegantly designed, with a smooth glaze.

The glaze color was also varied, including sky-blue, pea-green, pale-blue, mauve, dark-blue and off-white hues. Most of the wares have natural cracks on the surface. Flowerpots come in an array of shapes, including the sunflower, lotus flower, Chinese flowering crabapple, hexagon, square and rectangle. Other items include bowls, pots, stoves and earthen bowls.

Jun Kiln made its debut in the early Northern Song period and flourished in the late Northern Song. It is famous for its bronze-red glaze, which was an innovation of pottery making in ancient China. During the Jin (1115-1234)-Yuan (1271-1368) period, workshops around the country competed to perfect the wares made at the Jun Kiln. The kiln gradually declined after the Yuan Dynasty and stopped making pottery during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It resumed production after the foundation of the new China.

Apart from the Juntai Jun Kiln Site, a number of Jun Kiln sites from the Song Dynasty were discovered in Henan Province, but they were on a much smaller scale and operated by locals.

Protected Sites:Jinniushan Site

The Jinniushan Site is located on an isolated mountain eight kilometers south of Dashiqiao in Yingkou County, Liaoning Province.

Rising about 70 meters above the sea level, the site contains three deposits from the Fourth Age from west to east. During the four excavations carried out between 1974 and 1978, a large number of animal fossils were unearthed along with traces of fire pits, which included burnt bones, earth, charcoal scraps and some chipped stone implements.

In September 1984, some human fossils and fire-pit traces were discovered at the site. The more than 50 human fossils discovered include a nearly complete skull, vertebra, rib, ulna and carpale -- all belonging to a recently matured male. Stoneware unearthed at the Jinniushan Site was mainly made using hammering and smashing techniques. The wares, including scraping and sharp-pointed tools, have a processing technique and style resembling that of the Peking Man period.

An ash layer about 30 centimeters thick was also discovered at the site, containing two sites of round ash heaps on the surface. Inside the heaps was burnt clay and bones, including rabbits, mice and deer bones. Such animals were frequently hunted by primitive humans of that period. The Jinniushan Site is rich in animal fossils and human fossils and its geological age belongs to the mid-Pleistocene Period.

The fossils of primitive humans are not only in large supply, but they are also well preserved. Even the few existing damaged fossils can be restored to their former states, guaranteeing the veracity of the archaeological study. This was the first time that such complete human fossils were unearthed at a single site in China, as well as in the world.

The Jinniushan Man dates back about 280,000 years and is considered more advanced than the Peking Man (closer in intelligence to the Dali Man of the early Homo Sapiens). The findings have provided new evidence for the study of human physical development from primitive human to Homo Sapiens.

Protected Sites :Jiangnu Stone Site

The Jiangnu Stone Site is located near Bohai Sea in Suizhong County, Liaoning Province.

Before 1982 Jiangnv Stone was known as a group of reefs protruding from the sea. The following year, upon its exploration, the site was identified as a series of ruins from the Qin (221-206BC)-Han (206BC-220AD) period. Full excavation procedures were carried out in April 1984. Of the Jiangnu Stone Coast and another six nearby sites, the Stone Tablet Site is the largest and built one year earlier than the others, which were erected no later than during the early Western Han Dynasty (206BC-8AD).

The Stone Tablet Site is over 500 meters long from south to north and over 260 meters wide from east to west, covering an area of about 150,000 square meters. Surrounded by walls, the site has a tampered-earth high platform with a set of steps built in the central south. The eight-meter-high platform sits in the north and faces the sea in the south, with a series of tampered-earth constructions built on both sides and behind it. The high platform and the densely distributed constructions face the Jiangnv Stone in the sea. The largest Jiangnu Stone -- black in color -- is 24 meters above sea level; 11 meters long from south to north; and eight meters wide from east to west.

Historical records suggest that the Jiangnu Stone was a stone tablet from the Qin-Han period. A number of eaves and tiles carved with Kui (a one-legged monster in Chinese folklore) patterns and huge, hollow bricks were unearthed at the Stone Tablet Site, including some grand buildings and foundations. Since such grand projects were beyond the capacity of ordinary prefectures and are therefore deemed to be imperial palaces. If the Jiangnu Stone was the stone tablet of the Qin-Han period, the site would have probably been where the First Qin Emperor stayed on his inspection tour to the east.

The Heishantou Site lies on a high and open land and comprises three groups of constructions with multiple steps. The constructions were probably the Viewing Sea Platforms where Emperor Wudi of the Han Dynasty stood when visiting the great stone.

Protected Sites:Site of Ding Kiln in Jianci Village

The Ding Kiln Site is located in Jianci Village of Quyang County, Hebei Province.

Ding Kiln was a famous site of the Song Dynasty (960-1279). First discovered by the Imperial Palace Museum in 1951, large-scale excavations were conducted by a Hebei cultural relics team at the Ding Kiln Site between 1960 and 1960. The findings indicate that the kiln was built during the late Tang Dynasty (618-907), flourished in the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) and declined in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368).

The Ding Kiln was famous for its white pottery wares, mainly shaped into bowls and plates. The ware has an exquisite base and a bright and smooth white glaze that reveals some blackish-yellow or grayish-yellow hues. Most of the wares were decorated with complicated, but clearly arranged prints or carvings depicting various flowers and animals. During the Northern Song Dynasty, the site became one of the important kilns in the north and produced a large number of exquisite wares for the imperial family and feudal officials. Wares made for the imperial family were mainly adorned with dragon-phoenix patterns that employed masterly crafts. Also unearthed at the site were a few black, dark reddish-brown and green-glazed shards.

As an important pottery kiln of the north, the Ding Kiln of Jianci Village greatly influenced the technical development around the country. Hebei, Shanxi as well as the provinces south of the Yangtze River all followed suit, thus forming the Ding Kiln Style. To date the unearthed pottery kilns belonging to the Ding Kiln Style include the Lincheng Kiln of Hebei Province, Longquanwu Kiln of Beijing, a number of kilns from Shanxi Province and Jingdezhen Kiln of Jiangxi Province.

Protected Sites:Site of the Yaozhou Kiln in Huangpu Town

The Site of the Yaozhou Kiln is located in Huangpu Town of Tongchuan City, Shaanxi Province.

The Yaozhou Kiln was one of the Six Famous Kilns in ancient China and also the main celadon-producing area in the north. It was reputed as the Ten-li Kiln (1 li=1/2 km.) for its grand scale.

Between 1984 and 1986, 14 pottery workshops from the Tang (618-907), Five Dynasties (907-960), Song (960-1279), Jin (1115-1234) and Yuan (1271-1368) periods were unearthed at the site, including 18 stoves, thousands of intact pottery wares and over 30,000 shards. All pottery wares and shards have a solid base of a high pottery content. The wares were adorned with hundreds of patterns, such as landscapes, human figures and flowers. The Yaozhou Kiln wares were painted with a greenish-black glaze to appear bright and smooth, like jade.

Also unearthed at the site are workshops that produced Tang San Cai (tri-colored glazed pottery of the Tang Dynasty) and over 1,000 other wares. Such a large scale indicated that the Yaozhou Kiln was a main base for making Tang San Cai. The long-lost Tang San Cai tiles and dragon decorations were also first unearthed at the site.

The discovery of the Yaozhou Kiln Site provides plenty of materials for the study of the Chinese history of ancient pottery, as well as the political, economical and cultural development of that period. The kiln site is reputed as a natural museum of ancient pottery due to its high academic value.