Monday, December 18, 2006

Protected Sites : Site of Shangjing City of Liao

Shangjing City of Liao is located in the south of Lindong Town of Balin Banner in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
Shangjing City, one of the five capitals of the Liao Dynasty (916-1125), was first built in the 3rd year (918) of the Shence reign after Emperor Taizu established the dynasty. With the initial name of Huangdu (imperial capital), the city expanded in the first year (926) of the Tianxian reign and changed its name to Shangjing in the 13th year of the Tianxian reign. Regional excavation team of Inner Mongolia carried out preliminary survey and excavation at the site in 1962, and discovered the planning and construction style of the city.

Shangjing City of Liao was divided into an imperial city area and a Han city area. The city wall was made of tampered earth, with a perimeter of 6,400 metes. Built in the north part of the city, the imperial city was the residence place for Khitan nobles. Its construction strongly emphasized military defense. Outside the unearthed south, west and north gates were small towns built to defense the city. Lying in the center of the south part was a hummock where was built the imperial palace. Surrounded by low walls, the palace had its main hall built in the highest point in the center of the city where was originally a natural rock hill. In the back of the hall were orderly-arranged foundations of small buildings. Official bureaus, Buddhist temples, and workshops were constructed to the east and southeast of the imperial palace. The northwest of the imperial palace was mainly open land with a few sites of Buddhist temple and kiln in the west. It was believed that this part of the palace was used by Khitan nobles to pitch camps.

In the south of the palace was a wide street linking Hancheng, where lived the Han, Bohai and Huihu peoples. The west wall of the city was also the south wall of the palace. 4 gates have been unearthed. Besides a few official bureaus and temples, most buildings in the city were residential houses and workshops. Relics unearthed in Hancheng included wares made in the Central Plains and imitations as well as wares with national features, such as Baiding porcelain of the Central Plains, Fangding porcelain and coarse white porcelain of the Liao Kingdom, and tri-colored glazed pottery of the Liao Dynasty, cow-leg bottle and pottery with fine-line pattern.

The excavation of Shangjing City of the Liao Dynasty provided concrete materials for the systematic study of the construction of Liao cities.

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