Monday, December 18, 2006

Protected Sites: Site of the Capital of Jin State

The Site of Houma City of the Jin State is located at the joint of the Fen River and the Huihe River in Houma City, Shanxi Province. In the early Western Zhou Dynasty (11th century - 771BC), Emperor Cheng of Jin enfeoffed his younger brother Shu Yu, who changed the title of the dynasty into Jin. In the middle of the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476BC), Duke Jing of Jin moved the capital to Xintian (present Houma City). Till Jin was divided by three states in early Warring States Period, Xintian City had been its political, economic and cultural center.

Covering an area of 33 square kilometers, the Houma Site is the ruins of the capital city Xintian of late Jin State in the Autumn and Spring Period. The city has already been destroyed and abandoned, with only the palace's foundation left. During a large-scale excavation in 1956, two sets of the old city site were discovered, including Baidian City Site of the early period, and Pingwang, Niucun, Taishen, Mazhuang and Chengwang sites of the late period.

The Niucun Site is about 1,400 meters long from south to north, and 1,200 meters wide from east to west. To the south of the city were workshops for casting bronze and making pottery, stone and bone wares. The bronze ware site unearthed here covers an area of about 3,000 square meters, with rich cultural relics including 100 pieces of bronze ingot and bronze tools, as well as 30,000 potteries carved with delicate patterns such as one-leg monster, twisting dragon and snake, floating cloud, swimming fish, and running beast.

To the south of the Niucun Site was the Mingshi Site, which covers an area of about 3,800 square meters. Over 400 pits were discovered in the site, with sacrificial objects such as cow, horse, sheep and jade wares buried in it. In 41 pits, several thousand letters of alliance, known as the famous letters of alliance of Houma. These letters of high historical value recorded the fights among lords of Jin during the Spring and Autumn Period.

Two groups of tombs were unearthed on the south bank of the Huihe River, namely the Shangma site and the Liuquan Site. In the 13th tomb of Shangma site, a number of relics were excavated, such as big bronze tripod caldron and square pot. Among the relics, a pair of tripod caldrons with same inscription provided important data for historical study of the Xu State.

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