Monday, December 18, 2006

Protected Sites: Ancient City of Qi State in Linzi

The Ancient City Site of the Qi State is located in the west and north parts of Linzi City, Shandong Province.
The city was the capital of the Qi State in the Spring and Autumn (770-476BC) and Warring States (475-221BC) periods. It was the most prosperous city among capitals of various states, and also an important political, economic, and cultural center in the east part of China. According to the record kept in Biography of the Duke of the Qi State, a chapter in The Records of the Great Historians, Duke Xian, the 7th ruler of the Qi State, moved the capital to Linzi in 859BC. Since then, the city had been the capital of the Qi State till it was captured by the Qin State in 221BC.

The capital of Qi was very prosperous during the Warring States Period. As described by traveler Su Qin, who lived during that period, the city had 70,000 households. On the roads of Linzi City, wheels bumped into one another, and people jostled each other. Pieces of sleeves were like curtains, and drops of sweat were like rains. It was then a period for contention of a hundred schools of thought, and the Qi State had numerous talents, among whom the famous Jixia Scholars got their name for their meeting place Ji gate. In the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD), the city remained the capital of the Qi State. A Japanese team began to survey the city site in 1926. After 1964, the Shandong provincial cultural relic administrative bureau joined with the archaeology department of the Peking University and carried out a comprehensive excavation at the site.

Built on the west bank of the Zihe River, the Ancient City of Qi comprised two cities, one big and one small. The big city had a perimeter of 14 kilometers, with a foundation of 30 meters wide. The remains of the city walls were unearthed at the site. Vertically and horizontally distributed streets divided the big city into more than 10 districts. Man-made drains, the city moat connected with rivers, forming a perfect water system as well as a city defense system. Government offices were built in the south of the city. In the northeast corner and north of the city were workshops for smelting copper and iron, making bone and pottery wares. Market places were also in this area.

The small city was the palace, built in the southwest corner of the big city. Taking a rectangular shape, the city was 1.4 kilometers from east to west, and 2.2 kilometers from south to north. The palace area was located in the north of the city. A 14-meter-high tampered-earth base was unearthed in the area. With a diameter of 86 meters, the base, known as Duke Huan's platform, was the highest point of the whole city. It is said that the platform was where Duke Huan of Qi met with the feudal princes and inspected his troops when he dominated other states. In the north of the city was an imperial garden, with splendid constructions built in it.

Over 20 large-scale tombs of nobles were unearthed in the big city. A pit of sacrificial horses was discovered near a huge tomb of the monarch of the Qi State. The pit was 210 meters long and 5 meters wide, with more than 600 horses buried in it. Arranged in two rows, the sacrificial horses lied on their side with their heads held high. The great spectacle represented the powerful and prosperous Qi State that had a reputation of state of a thousand horse carriages.

A museum was built at the city site, exhibiting hundreds of cultural relics unearthed through the years.

No comments: