Monday, December 18, 2006

Protected Sites: Yin Ruin in Anyang

Yin Ruin is located at the west bank of the Yuan River in the northwest suburb of Anyang City in Henan Province.

Yin Ruin is the ruins of the capital city of the late Shang Dynasty (17th - 11th century BC). Since the king of Pan Geng moved the capital here in the late 14th century BC, the Shang Dynasty had been under the reign of 12 kings belonging to 8 generations till the overthrown of King Zhou, lasting 273 years. After the Zhou Dynasty (11th century - 256BC) conquered the Shang Dynasty, the city was abandoned. Originally known as North Meng or Yin, the desolated city was named as the Yin Ruin by later generations.

In the 25th year (1899) of Emperor Guang Xu's reign in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Wang Yirong first discovered the oracle bone inscriptions in Xiaotun Village, the center of the Yin Ruin. After examination and research by epigraphy scholars Luo Zhenyu and Wang Guowei, the bone inscriptions carried the posthumous titles of kings and high-rank officials of Shang Dynasty and thereby proved that the site was the Yin Ruin, the capital city's ruins of late Shang Dynasty recorded in historical books such as The Records of the Great Historian.

During the period from 1928 to 1937, 15 excavations were carried out by the Central Research Institute, and initially revealed relations of the Yangshao Culture, the Longshan Culture and the Shang Culture. A burial ground with 7 large tombs for kings was also unearthed, together with sacrificial objects and over 17,000 oracle bones. After the founding of new China, archaeological excavations had been carried on by the Archaeology Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences till now, with plentiful and substantial fruits harvested in the past 50 years.

Archaeological excavations prove that the orderly-arranged Yin Ruin is the miniature of a highly developed slave society. The Yin Ruin has an area of 24 square kilometers. On the south bank of the Yuanhe River were large-scale palaces and temples, surrounded by workshops for casting copper, making bone objects and pottery wares, as well as residential area and burial ground for citizens. While on the north side of the river was a large area of burial ground for kings, surrounded by simple substandard housing. A total of 13 large tomes of nobles were unearthed in the burial ground, with each tome circled in compactly arranged pits for sacrificial victims who were buried alive with the dead. Altogether, over 1,400 pits were excavated.

The total area is 30 square kilometers. Yin Ruin is the key cultural relics site under the state protection. It is an important part of human's cultural and historical heritages.

Over 150,000 oracle inscriptions, including over 5,000 different characters have been excavated in the ruins. These characters are the oldest ever found in China. Unearthed relics also include a large number of oracle bone inscriptions, delicate bronze ware, jade and ivory articles, production tools and articles for daily use. The most famous among them is the Simuwu Tripod, the largest piece of bronze ware relic of that time ever found in the world, weighing 875 kg. It shows the high level of craftsmanship and economic and cultural development of the late Shang Dynasty.

The late Shang Dynasty, which made Yin Ruin as its capital, starts a new era of China's history. It has a sparse domain and well-developed economy, politics, military, technology and culture. All these make late Shang Dynasty become one of the splendid dynasties, which contribute to China's civilization. Yin Ruin enjoys a high reputation because of its unique styled and large-scale palace construction and its grandest mausoleums.

Cultural relics unearthed in Yin Ruin are respectively preserved in the National Museum of Chinese History, the Palace Museum, the Archeological Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Henan Provincial Museum and Taiwan National Palace Museum.

No comments: