Monday, December 18, 2006

Protected Sites:Juyan Site

Juyan Site spreads across Jinta County of Gansu Province and the Erjina Banner of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

Juyan is the site of the beacon towers and walls of the frontier fortress under Ju Yan and Jian Shui of the Zhangye prefecture during the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD). The frontier fortress stretches from the northeast to the southwest, with a total length of about 250 kilometers. Built in 102BC, it was abandoned in the late Eastern Han (25-220). The frontier fortress acted as a strategic pathway to the West and a barrier along the Gansu Corridor. It also played an important role in severing the connection between the Huns and the Qiangs, and held a special position in the Han strategy towards the Huns.

During excavations in 1930, over 10,000 bamboo and wooden slips were unearthed from the Han Dynasty. Between 1972 and 1976, another 20,000 slips were unearthed at the Pochengzi Jiaqu Palace Site, the fourth beacon-fire tower ruins of the Jiaqu and Jianshui Jinguan Site. These three sites all have their own special features, providing important clues to forming a comprehensive understanding of the architectural style of beacon-fire towers of the Han Dynasty.

The Pochengzi Jiaqu Palace Site comprises constructions of the Zhang and Wu, both located in the northwest. Covering an area of 23.3 square meters, the small castle contains houses, kitchen ranges and sties. Unearthed cultural relics include bows, arrows, bronze arrowheads and armor, together with iron farm implements, tools and various daily articles.

The fourth beacon tower of Jiaqu is very large; it has a remnant 3.4 meters high. The cone-shaped tower is made of tampered earth on an eight-meter-long base on each side. In the southwest corner of the beacon tower is a kitchen range with a chimney where smoke was released into the sky in emergencies.

The Jianshui Jinguan Site is built on a mountain pass and contains a large number of cultural relics, such as knives, swords and arrowheads; fragments of clothing made of silk, gunny, hide and leather; and torches used for igniting the beacon fire. These findings reflect the military activities of the period.

Han slips found at the site provide a wide range of records that can be applied to many fields, including politics, military affairs, the economy, culture, science and technology, law, philosophy, religion and different ethnic groups. They not only recorded military activities in the Juyan area, but also kept official documents from the mid-Western Han to early Eastern Han periods, providing important materials for the study of Han history and culture.

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