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Chinese experts name 10 most amazing archaeological sites

China Daily/ANN | Wang Kaihao | Sunday, Apr 16, 2017

Gold-coated small Asoka pagoda found among relics from Qinglong town, Qingpu district, Shanghai, Tang (618-907) to Song (960-1279) dynasties.

Photo: China Daily/ Asia News Network

Gold-coated small Asoka pagoda found among relics from Qinglong town, Qingpu district, Shanghai, Tang (618-907) to Song (960-1279) dynasties. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Chinese archaeologists worked at more than 2,000 sites in 2016, and experts have selected the 10 best ones.

Among the Top 10 Archaeological Discoveries of China in 2016, which were announced on Wednesday, are the remains of a 2,000-year-old city unearthed on the outskirts of Beijing and items uncovered in the cradle of Shanghai that point to the ancient Maritime Silk Road.

Pieces (placed in white reconstruction) of pottery vase found among Niupodong cave relics, Gui'an New District, Guizhou province, 3,000 to 15,000 years old. Photo: China Daily/ Asia News Network
Pieces of jade jewelry among Shijiahe relics, Tianmen, Hubei province, 4,000 years old. Photo: China Daily/ Asia News Network

Remnants of the Han Dynasty (206 BC to 220 AD) city of Luxian, covering 350,000 square meters in the capital's Tongzhou district, are among the top finds. The site was discovered during urban construction work for Beijing's future administrative centre.

"The basic layout of the ancient city has been figured out, and many important relics were found that show Beijing's early history, but a few more years will be needed to fully study the site with follow-up excavations," said Liu Qingzhu, one of the judges of the Top 10 finds and academic director of the Institute of Archaeology, affiliated with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Porcelain vase from Guzhen porcelain kiln, Hejin, Shanxi province. Photo: China Daily/ Asia News Network
Horse remains in a Xuechi sacrificial ritual site, Fengxiang county, Shaanxi province, Qin (221 to 206 BC) to Han (206 BC to 220 AD) dynasties. Photo: China Daily/ Asia News Network

The judging panel was composed of 21 experts from institutions, including the Palace Museum, the National Museum of China and Peking University. They took part in this year's annual poll, which has been called "the Academy Awards of Chinese archaeology".

Liu said that town ruins from the Tang Dynasty (618-907) found in Shanghai's Qingpu district indicate a lesser-known direction of the ancient Maritime Silk Road trade route.

Pottery food holders found in the Luxian ancient city site, Tongzhou district, Beijing, Han Dynasty. Photo: China Daily/ Asia News Network
Porcelains found in a Shanglin Lake porcelain kiln, Cixi, Zhejiang province, Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Photo: China Daily/ Asia News Network

"Previous studies often focused on southern routes," Liu said. "Findings in the town not only unveiled an early stage city in Shanghai, but also a route leading to the Korean Peninsula and Japan."

Wang Wei, head of the Society of Chinese Archaeology, said preparation work for urban construction has been a main source of the discovery of archaeological sites, but Chinese archaeologists also have been trying to undertake projects away from cities.

Stone accessories discovered in Gezishan, Qingtongxia, the Ningxia Hui autonomous region.
Photo: China Daily/ Asia News Network

That led to the discovery last year of some important prehistoric relics. At a 13,000-year-old site in the Ningxia Hui autonomous region, for instance, rare and exquisite ornaments made of ostrich eggs were excavated. This also is an award winner.

"People used to have a stereotype that there can hardly be any top-tier findings later than the Song Dynasty (960-1279)," he said. "But the time distribution of the 10 findings is more balanced this year."

Porcelain bowl with floral painting from Guzhen porcelain kiln, Hejin, Shanxi province, with elements from Song and Jin dynasties (960-1279). Photo: China Daily/ Asia News Network

Nevertheless, Wang said physical beauty is not a prerequisite to be among the Top 10.

"We place more emphasis on whether the findings are relevant in academic research, even if some objects are not that good looking from the public's points of view," he said.

Employing more study methods from the natural sciences has become a new trend in Chinese archaeology. For example, plant seeds were found among some sites and had to be identified and the chemical analysis of materials found at an ancient mining site was needed.

Piece of Kuzhaikeng early-stage green porcelain, Yongchun county, Fujian province, 18th-14th century BC Photo: China Daily/ Asia News Network
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