During construction of a new playground at Taiping No.1 Middle School of Qingxin County, Guangdong, a complex extending to several thousands of square meters was discovered. It remains to be established whether the mysterious complex was for military use or for burial purposes.
The catacomb was discovered in the course of building the school playground. “At first there was a small hummock. Once we had removed around 3 meters of soil, a mysterious tunnel emerged,” said an employee from the Qingyuan Museum.
Following on-site examination and exploration by archeologists from Guangdong Province and Qingyuan City, a preliminary hypothesis suggests that the catacomb is a defense structure set up around the start of the 20th century. Construction work in the playground has stopped, and an area of around 2000 square meters will be cleared for further investigation.
From the surface several deep holes can be seen, which appear to be entrances leading into the complex. The passages are high enough for person and horse to go through, but no-one has yet ventured inside. The passages are roofed with brick. It is clear that after tunneling into the mountain, the builders concealed the entrances with earth and mud. The walls are built of blue bricks with a non-cement mortar. It can be seen from the extent of the complex that this was a major project.
A series of trenches run from east to west; so far the excavations have revealed structures around 38 meters in length, 1.3 meters wide, and 2.5 meters deep, with 16 meters between each lane. But the full extent of the trenches has not yet been determined.
An old local resident said that the place was the workshop of the Qingyuan County Taiping Machinery Factory. It is also believed that 20 km to the east was a military airport that was used before the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. However, examination of historical documents has not revealed any record of an underground construction.
It remains a mystery whether this huge underground complex was used for military purposes, or was some kind of ancient catacomb. Further cultural relics will be needed to shed light on these questions.
(China.org.cn by Hou Xiaoying, August 21, 2008)