Yanshi shopping mall site: a memory of 3600 years

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On the north side of Yanshi mall site, several citizens are fishing leisurely.

“It was restored on the basis of the Royal pool garden of the Shang Dynasty.” Pointing to the rectangular pond in front of the fisherman, Zhang Suocheng, director of the office of Yanshi Cultural Relics Bureau, said.

Yesterday, when we walked into the first capital of the Shang Dynasty – Yanshi Shang city site, we couldn’t help but be shocked by the ancient capital, which had been sleeping underground for more than 3000 years.

This is an ancient and mysterious land. Under every inch of the earth’s surface, there may be rich historical information buried. Due to the accumulation of underground historical civilizations, archaeologists once joked that it would take 3600 years to drill a well here.


The ancient capital city sleeping for more than 3000 years was “awakened”

Where is the commercial capital Xibo? After the discovery of Yin Ruins in Anyang in the early 20th century, generations of archaeologists have been struggling for more than half a century. In the spring and summer of 1983, in the process of coordinating with the capital construction site selection of Shouyangshan Power Plant, the Han Wei ancient city team of the Institute of Archaeology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences was shocked by a new discovery: it was a large-scale city site in the early Shang Dynasty.

After more than five years of excavation, Yanshi shopping mall, an ancient city that has been sleeping underground for more than 3000 years, began to see the light again – the answer has been found after more than half a century of exploration. This major discovery has aroused great interest and deep concern of academic circles at home and abroad.

Yanshi mall site is located 1 km west of Yanshi City, with Mangshan Mountain in the north and Luoshui River in the south. According to experts from Yanshi Cultural Relics Bureau, the city site was built about 1600 BC and has been used for more than 200 years, with a history of more than 3600 years. The city site is covered 1-4 meters underground. The plane is slightly rectangular. It is more than 1700 meters long from north to South and 1120 meters wide in the middle. It is composed of three walls of palace city, small city and big city and several groups of palace building sites.

The small town is adjacent to the Luohe River, covering an area of about 800000 square meters. Its layout is symmetrical, with the neutral palace facing the back market. A little higher in the south of the city are the palace city and the official office area. The National Treasury is located in the southwest corner of the city. The copper casting workshop is located by the Northeast river outside the city. Ordinary residential areas and handicraft workshops are mainly distributed in the north of the city.

The big city is a large-scale expansion from the small city to the north and East, with an area of 1.9 million square meters. On the basis of maintaining the original pattern of the city, most of the palaces were rebuilt or expanded, showing a prosperous scene.

The palace city is generally square, surrounded by a rammed earth wall about 2 meters wide, with a clear layout and complete facilities. From south to north, it can be divided into three parts: the palace area, the sacrificial area and the pool garden area. The palace building is divided into two areas symmetrical from east to west; The setting of the sacrificial area was exquisite, and nearly 100 pigs were found only; The core of Chiyuan district is a rectangular pool about 130 meters long and 20 meters wide, which is the earliest urban garden site discovered so far.


The replacement of Xia and Shang Dynasties and cultural landmarks

Yanshi shopping mall was earlier than the late Shang Dynasty represented by the Yin Ruins in Anyang, from which we can clearly see the historical track of the merchant culture, and its discovery is enough to shock the world. Guohongtao, an expert from Yanshi Municipal Bureau of cultural relics, said that the academic community has reached a consensus that it is the earliest, largest and best preserved imperial capital in the early Shang Dynasty. The abandonment of the summer capital of Erlitou, Yanshi, and the rise of Yanshi mall as the capital of the Shang Dynasty, are major events in the replacement of the Xia and Shang Dynasties in Chinese history. The beginning time of Yanshi shopping mall can be used as a landmark of Xia and Shang culture. The national key project, the project of dating Xia, Shang and Zhou dynasties, takes this theory as a landmark achievement of the project.

Experts pointed out that the archaeological evidence of Yanshi shopping mall showed that its urban layout was symmetrical and regular. The water supply and drainage facilities were in the form of underground canals, and the palace city and the government treasury formed horns; The palace building has a system of the former dynasty’s back dormitories, the separation of the palace and the temple, and the independence of the eastern kitchen. There are special sacrificial places and amusement pools in the palace city, which are all customized for the capital construction of later generations.

Many exquisite cultural relics have been unearthed in Yanshi mall, including bronze knights, bronze statues, copper knives, etc. According to electron probe microanalysis, copper, tin and lead alloys had been used at that time, which had high archaeological value.

Yanshi shopping mall is of great academic value. Together with the adjacent Erlitou site, it constitutes the immortal “twin constellations” of Xia and Shang archaeology. In 1988, the site of Yanshi shopping mall was declared as a national key cultural relics protection unit by the State Council. In 1997, the archaeology of Yanshi mall was selected as one of the top ten archaeological discoveries in China. In 2001, Yanshi shopping mall was rated as one of the 100 archaeological discoveries in China in the 20th century.


Construction of Shang Dynasty palace city site protection park

Looking from a distance near the Shouyang mountain power plant in Yanshi, national highway 310, an ancient city wall covered with green grass stands tall. The restoration, exhibition and protection project of the west wall of Yanshi mall site has begun to show its “beauty”.

In 1997, after the excavation of the northeast corner of Yanshi shopping mall and the “dahuigou” of the palace city was completed, Yanshi City actively started the protection of the ruins of Yanshi shopping mall. The Institute of Archaeology of the Academy of Social Sciences and the cultural relics management committee of Yanshi City jointly formulated the site protection plan and the implementation plan of the first phase of the project. Yanshi City invested more than 100000 yuan each year to rent 77 mu of land occupied by the palace area, and the State Administration of cultural relics contributed to the construction of the “shopping mall ruins garden”.

In accordance with the cultural relics protection policy of “protection first, rescue first, rational utilization and strengthened management”, the protection project of the archaeological site in the northeast corner of Dacheng, the protection project of the palace city site, the foundation sites of palaces No. 4, No. 2 and No. 8, and the restoration and exhibition project of ponds and channels have been launched successively, and the relics of palaces No. 4 and No. 2, dahuigou and ponds have been gradually restored.

In 2004, the site of Yanshi shopping mall was listed in the first batch of 36 large sites to be protected in China. In order to explore a new way to protect cultural relics, in march2006, the State Administration of cultural relics approved the overall plan for the protection and utilization of Yanshi mall site. The main idea of the plan is to build a “Yanshi mall site garden” forest park covering an area of 3000 mu; Establish a site museum in the site area to display the site features in an all-round and three-dimensional way; Adjust the road network facilities in the site of Yanshi mall, mainly complete the diversion project of national highway 310 to avoid the site; Complete the protection project of palace city and Palace site, make it a highlight of the protection display of Yanshi mall site, and properly restore a city gate, a section of city wall, a palace, etc.

In that year, the State Administration of cultural relics officially launched the restoration, exhibition and protection project of the west wall of Yanshi mall site, and allocated 10million yuan of special funds. Yanshi municipal government allocated more than 1million yuan of supporting funds to compensate for the demolition of temporary buildings and ground attachments in the project area. Last year, the State Administration of cultural relics allocated a special fund of 8million yuan for the protection, exhibition and utilization of the No. 4 palace. At present, the project is preparing for bidding. Starting from the protection of cultural relics, Yanshi has invested more than 5million yuan at one time to afforest more than 3000 mu of land in the big city circle outside the palace city. At present, more than 2000 mu of land has been afforested.

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