Monday, December 18, 2006

Protected Sites: Jinan City of Chu State

The Jinan City of the Chu State is located 5 kilometers north to Jiangling County in Hubei Province.

The Jinan City was the capital of State of Chu of the Spring and Autumn (770-476BC) and Warring States (475-221BC) periods. It was called Yingdu then and was also known as Jiying for its location to the south of Jishan Mountain. It first gained its name of Jinan in the notes of Zuo Zhuan written by Du Yu, a scholar of the Western Jin Dynasty (265-316). The city was the capital of the Chu State from the first year (689BC) of King Wen's reign in the Chu State and remained so till the 21st year (278BC) of King Qingxiang's reign when Bai Qi, a Qin captain, captured the city, lasting 20 generations in 411 years. During this period, the Chu State conquered about 50 small states and reched its peak. The territory of the Chu State stretched northward to the Yellow River, eastward to the seashore, westward to Yunnan, and southward to southern Hunan, while Jinan City became the political, cultural and economic center of the Chu State as well as the largest city in the south.

The large-scale Jinan City Site is 4.5 kilometers long from east to west and 3.5 kilometers wide from south to north, covering an area of 16 square kilometers. The city wall, made of tampered earth, has a perimeter of 15.5 kilometers, with remains of 6.7 meters high found in some sections. 7 gates were opened on the four sides. The unearthed north gate in the west wall has three gateways and buildings resembling gatehouses on both sides. Two floodgates were open at the exit of ancient river courses built in the south and the north walls.

Built inside the city were densely constructed tampered-earth foundations, high or low, with the highest one of 6 meters. Ancient wells and kilns were scattered inside the city site, together with a number of construction materials such as pantiles and flat tiles and cultural relics of the Eastern Zhou period. Houses of the East Zhou period that unearthed in the southeast part of the city have a wall base of 60 meters long and 14 meters wide. After the capital of Chu was moved to Chen (today's Huiyang City in Henan Province), Fenghuang Hill, located inside the city, became the burial ground during Qin and Han periods. The famous body of the Western Han Dynasty was excavated here, together with a number of bamboo slips and finely painted lacquers

Besides, three large burial grounds were discovered beyond the city site, with over 700 large- and medium-sized tombs for the royals and nobles of the Chu State. Jinan City was abandoned after Bai Qi captured it.

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