Sunday, December 17, 2006

Protected Sites:Epang Palace Site

The Epang Palace Site is located in Epang Village, 15 kilometers to the west suburb of Xi'an City, Shaanxi Province. As one of the famous constructions in Chinese history, the Epang Palace, built on a large scale and with a vigorous style, was the imperial palace of the first and second emperors of the Qin Dynasty (221-206BC).

According to historical record, after Qin united the six states, Emperor Shihuang forced over 700,000 people to build the Epang Palace on the south bank of the Weishui River in the his 35th reign year (212BC). Only the front hall was completed during Emperor Shihuang's reign. As described in The Records of the Great Historian-The Biography of Qin Emperor Shihuang, the front hall of the Epang Palace was 500 steps from east to west and 50 zhang (1 zhang = 3.3 m) from south to north, with a capacity of 10,000 people. A road from the palace led straight to Zhongnan Mountain and a channel way was dug near the peak of the mountain. Crossing the Weishui River from the Epang Palace, one will arrive at lands belonging to Xianyang City.

After the death of Emperor Shihuang, the succeeding emperor continued to construct the palace, with a storied building built every 5 steps and a pavilion every 10 steps. Groups of buildings and pavilions stretched westward to Xianyang City and eastward to Lintong City, covering more than 300 li (1 li = 500 m) and towering high into the sky. Renowned poet Du Mu of the Tang Dynasty (618-907) described in details about the Epang Palace in his Epang Palace Fu (fu is one of the Chinese literary forms akin to poetry). During wars at the end of the Qin Dynasty, Xiang Yu captured Xianyang City and burned down the splendid Epang Palace.

Shaanxi cultural relic administrative committee and provincial archaeological institution successively carried out excavations at the site in 1956 and discovered a tampered-earth foundation in the south of Epang Village. Known as the Emperor Shihuang's Heaven Platform, the foundation has a perimeter of 310 meters and is 20 meters high. In the southwest of the village was a rectangular tableland known as Meiwu Mountain Ridge, covering an area of 260,000 square meters. These two sites are the most notable historical remains of the Epang Palace.

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