The 3,300-year-old Yin Ruins located in Anyang City in central
China's Henan Province, dubbed the root of Chinese
culture, was included on the World Heritage list on July 13 at the
30th Session of the World Heritage Committee (WHC) in Lithuania, a
day after the giant panda habitat in Sichuan Province. China now
has 33 sites on the list.
It ranks third in the world in terms of number of listed sites,
after Italy and Spain.
When Jin Suidong, secretary of the Anyang Municipal Committee of
the Communist Party of China (CPC) who is attending the WHC
session, announced the good news to anxious Anyang residents by
telephone, the entire city erupted into celebrations.
Thousands of people gathered in a downtown square to celebrate
with dancing and singing. Top officials from Henan Province and
Anyang City attending the celebrations unveiled a set of stamps
specially issued for the Yin Ruins.
According to Jin, it took only six minutes for all 21
representatives of the WHC to unanimously agree to include the Yin
Ruins to the list after having heard the application report. The
WHC spoke very highly of the site and regarded the site as being of
"The Yin Ruins are one of China's most significant archeological
discoveries. After nearly 80 years of scientific research and
excavation, abundant academic results have been achieved," the
State Administration of Cultural Heritage said in a letter of
congratulations that was sent to Anyang City.
"The Yin Ruins' inclusion on the World Heritage List indicates
the international society's acknowledgement of their great
historic, scientific and cultural value."
Lying about 2 km northwest of Anyang City, the Yin Ruins cover
an area of 30 square km. It was once the capital of the Shang
Dynasty empire 3,300 years ago and is the first capital ruins with
a historical record confirmed by oracles and archaeological
excavations. "Yin" was the ancient name for the Shang Dynasty (1600
The ruins have been dubbed the "cradle of Chinese archaeology"
by archaeologists. Excavations have revealed tombs, foundations of
palaces and temples, bronzes, jade carvings, lacquer ware, white
carved ceramics, green-glazed ware and oracle bones. One of the
most significant discoveries are inscribed animal bones and
tortoise shells, known as the oracle bones, which carry the
earliest known examples of Chinese characters. Since its excavation
in late 19th century, more than 150,000 pieces of animal bones and
tortoise shells bearing inscriptions recording harvests,
astronomical phenomena, worship rituals and wars have been
unearthed here, providing scholars with valuable historic and
The ruins also bear witness to the prime of China's bronze age.
The four-legged bronze cauldron Simuwu Ding, measuring 133 cm in
height and weighing 875 kg, is the world's biggest bronze ware item
The asymmetric city layout, which has been adopted by many
Chinese cities including Beijing for over 3,000 years, also
originated from these ruins.
Since July 12, a film that documents the five years that local
authorities spent bidding for World Heritage inclusion has been
playing on local TV stations. Anyang submitted its application in
April 2001 and since then many experts have come to the place to do
research and evaluation. As part of protection and conservation
efforts, local government invested over 200 million yuan, of which
31 million yuan were donated by local citizens, and 688 households
In a speech broadcast live on TV, Li Chengyu, the governor of
Henan Province, also expressed his thanks to experts and
technicians as well as many ordinary work staff who have been
engaged in protecting the Yin Ruins: "The successful inclusion of
the Yin Ruins on the World Heritage List signifies that the
protection work of the ruins and the development of the cultural
industry in Henan Province has entered a new stage. We will spare
no effort and continue to protect, display and explore the great
value of the Yin Ruins."
The Anyang folk are equally thrilled about the World Heritage
listing. Wang Guang, a taxi driver, was very excited to hear the
news because he witnessed the work that the local authorities have
done to improve the environment: "Most people travel to Anyang to
see the Yin Ruins. It takes only 20 minutes now by taxi from
downtown Anyang. This World Heritage listing will surely attract
more tourists and greatly promote the city's image. September and
October are the best times to visit Anyang."
Feng Xi, a junior college student majoring in Chinese culture is
more concerned about the protection post-listing: "The value of the
Yin Ruins is eternal and can never be denied. The research on and
protection of it should never stop. Of course, World Heritage
listing will attract more attention from the world, and enable
people to better understand the long history of Chinese
According to local government sources, Anyang has been exploring
new methods to better protect cultural relics at the ruins. In
cooperation with the Archeology Institute of the Chinese Academy of
Social Sciences, they established an information and archive
database for all the cultural relics unearthed in the place and
built the Yin Ruins Museum to display them.
Dong Yongan, mayor of Anyang, said that the successful inclusion
of the Yin Ruins on the World Heritage List is one of the biggest
cultural events in Anyang's history.
"Thanks to the efforts of Anyang's 5.3 million people and the
support of experts from all over the country, the Yin Ruins have
become the window to a better understanding of Chinese culture and
history. The Yin Ruins are not only Anyang's or China's but they
also belong to the world."
Dong vowed that local authorities will take this opportunity to
further increase awareness of cultural heritage protection.
China Refuses to Give up Claim for Return of Yin
Giant Panda Habitat Makes World Heritage
(China.org.cn by staff reporter Wang Qian, July 14, 2006)