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Archaeological Top 10

China's top 10 archaeological findings of 2000 were announced on Thursday.

The top 10 list was selected from 40 candidates from more than 400 archaeological projects undertaken last year. Sponsored by the China Archaeology Society, the China Relics News and the Guangming Daily, the decision was made by an expert panel of leading Chinese archaeologists.

Zhang Zhongpei, the former curator of the Forbidden Palace Museum and a member of the panel, said that Chinese archaeologists harvested significant findings last year.

"Our criteria is that the findings must be new," or show "new materials for certain study."

In chronological order, the top best findings are:

1. A Palaeolithic site in Wanshou Cliff, Sanming, in East China's Fujian Province.

Archaeologists unearthed a Palaeolithic site in two grottoes in Sanming, west Fujian. The discovery has pushed back the history of mankind in the area by 180,000 years.

Traces of ancient Chinese in the Old Stone Age 200,000 years ago and stone-paved surfaces were also found. The surfaces were previously unknown in China and are also rare.

More than 800 objects of stone, bone and fossil have been found at the site with a total area of 4,000 square metres, including 70 stone implements and a large number of animal fossils. The same kind of stone implements have also been found in Taiwan, which proves that Taiwan and the Chinese mainland share a common origin.

2. The prehistoric site of the Longshan Culture (2500 - 1700 BC) in Lianyungang, Jiangsu Province.

The ruins of the 4,000-year-old city on the outskirts of Lianyungang, a coastal city in East China's Jiangsu Province, cover a total area of approximately 14,000 square metres. Archaeologists have already excavated an area of about 4,000 square metres.

They unearthed the remains of a moat, the outer and inner city walls, two roads, foundations of more than 35 houses, and paddy fields, carbonized rice and more than 2,000 objects of pottery, stone and jade of the Longshan Culture.

The Longshan Culture, discovered largely in eastern and central China, represents a critical period for the origin of civilization in China, with the appearance of city sites as its significant characteristic. Up to now, dozens of sites confirmed to be prehistoric cities have been unearthed in the central plains and southern areas of China.

With the well-preserved layout, the city site is considered a good sample for research of prehistoric towns in China.

3. The town site of the Longshan Culture in Xinmi, Henan Province in central China.

Located at the Guchengzhai Village, about 35 kilometres southeast of Xinmi in Henan, the site has the largest fortified town ruins of the Longshan Culture ever found in central China, with the best preserved city wall.

The Guchengzhai site covers an area of 176,500 square metres. The current excavation exposes an area of more than 1,000 square metres.

The southern, northern and eastern sections of the city wall have been very well-preserved. The moat was found at the south, north and east sides of the city.

Archaeologists also dug out four dwelling foundations, four potters' kilns, five tombs, eight wells, 153 storage pits and a large number of daily utensils made out of stone, bone, shell and pottery.

The ruins date back to the late Longshan Culture and have a link with the Xia culture. The Xia (2000 - 1600 BC) marks the end of prehistory and the start of civilization in China. So the findings are important to the research of the Xia culture and the origin of Chinese civilization.

4. Ancient tombs of pre-Qin (221-206 BC) period in Hengling Ridge in Boluo County, southern China's Guangdong Province.

Archaeologists have excavated 306 graves dating before the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) in the Hengling Ridge in Boluo of Guangdong Province. They contained more than 1,000 objects including pottery, bronze, jade, crystal and iron.

Researchers claim that the findings prove the history of the civilization of the Five Ridges Region, another name for present-day Guangdong Province and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, may have existed more than 3,000 years ago, which goes back farther than previously thought.

5. The palace site of Longwan, Qianjiang, Hubei Province.

Archaeologists excavated an area of 3,240,000 square metres and found 19 palatial building foundations which cover a total area of more than 210,000 square metres. Rare remains of three shell-studded roads with a total length of 33 metres and a complete subterranean drainage network were also found at the site. Fragments of pottery and copper ware were also found.

The remains of the palace dates back to the late period of the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC). Its large scale, unique wood and earth structure, and asymmetrical layout are unique in China.

6. The tomb of the ancient kingdom of Shu in Chengdu, Sichuan Province.

Located in downtown Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan, the tomb probably belonged to a member of the royal family or even a king of the kingdom of Shu, a state in the Western Zhou Dynasty (1046 - 771 BC) comprising the present-day Chengdu area in Southwest China's Sichuan Province.

Archaeologists dug out a large number of exceptional boat-shaped coffins and single-log coffins, which are the first found in China. The burial method of the tomb was also previously unknown.

The coffins contained several hundred exotic objects of pottery, lacquer, bronze, bamboo and wood. Beautiful lacquer articles rank the best among lacquer ware of the Warring States Period (475-221 BC) found in China, with a variety shapes and rich decoration.

Dating between the late period of the Spring and Autumn Period and the early period of the Warring States Period, the lacquer artifacts have pushed back the history of Chengdu as one of the country's lacquer ware production centres by 300-400 years.

The remains of the tomb reveal the attributes of the elite in the kingdom of Shu at the height of its prosperity.

7. The affiliated and sacrificial pits of the Luozhuang Mausoleum of Han Dynasty (206 BC- AD 220), Zhangqiu, Shandong Province.

The Luozhuang Mausoleum, about one-kilometre away from Luozhuang Village of Zhangqiu, in East China's Shandong Province, has the biggest tombs of princes of the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 24) ever found.

Although the main coffin chamber has not yet been excavated , the excavation of 32 affiliate sacrificial pits has brought over 3,000 exceptional objects of bronze, copper, iron, gold, lacquer, bone, terracotta and wooden figurines to light. The pits rank first in numbers of funerary goods among all of the tombs of the Han Dynasty unearthed in China.

In addition, a set of percussion instruments and stringed instruments were dug-up from an affiliated pit, including a set of 19-piece chime stones which outnumbered the total pieces found in the previous excavations of tombs of the Han dynasty.

8. The site of ancient altar buildings in Zhongshan Hill, Nanjing, Jiangsu Province.

Archaeologists excavated the site of two altars and a group of attached buildings in the Zhongshan Hill of Nanjing. Covering an area of 20,000 square metres with a north-south axis stretching over 300 metres, the site dates between the late period of Eastern Jin Dynasty (AD 317-420) and the Song period (AD 420-479) of Southern Dynasty (AD 420-589). It is confirmed to be the earliest site of ancient altar buildings found in China.

9. The site of Lin'an City Hall of Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province.

Lin'an is one of the ancient names of present-day Hangzhou, the capital of East China's Zhejiang Province. It was the capital of the Southern Song Dynasty.

According to historical documents, the Lin'an City Hall was begun in 1130 and had been the city's political centre for 780 years.

In May-June of 2000, archaeologists found the site of the mansion. They excavated an area of more than 1070 square metres and found the remains of a complex of buildings including a hall, a courtyard, a garden, a side hall and alleyways. They unearthed large numbers of components of buildings, daily utensils and equipment for training soldiers.

Researchers considered the findings an important breakthrough for the archaeology of ancient Lin'an City.

10. The ruins of the Ruguan porcelain kiln (A State-owned kiln which produced porcelain articles exclusively for the royal family) in Qingliangsi, Baofeng, Henan Province.

Local archaeologists excavated an area of 475 square metres at the government kiln ruins and found the production area of the famous kiln. They cleaned out 15 kilns, two workshops, 22 clay pits, a well and a large number of fragments of porcelain articles. Many were new and rare shapes of porcelain.

Researchers think the discovery has significant meaning for research into porcelain.

-- source: China Daily

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