Archaeological Discoveries
in 2001
Archaeological Discoveries
in 2000
Top Ten Archaeological Finds
for 1999
Archaeological Discoveries
in 1999

Chinese "Pompeii" Brought to Light

  Ruins of a grand ancient architectural complex with certain city functions were recently found in Fuxian Lake of Yuxi, Yunnan Province, and are believed to be a site of the ancient Yunnan Kingdom that disappeared under the lake waters 2,000-3,000 years ago. They have been dubbed China's "Pompeii Ruins".

  Fuxian Lake is located in the suburbs of Yuxi City in central Yunnan, 60 km from the provincial capital Kunming, with a water surface of 211 square meters. The area has been frequently jolted by earthquakes throughout history, giving rise to many legends about an "ancient Yunnan Kingdom" that disappeared,

  On March 13 and 15, a team headed by the famous archaeologist Yu Xixian, a professor of Peking University, and two journalists from the Yunnan Daily, used the "Blue Whale" submersible to explore the lake bottom. Through photography, inspection and taking samples, as well as a comprehensive study of hydrological data, they reached a preliminary conclusion on the location, scale and formation of the underwater ruins.

  The architectural structure of the ruins is similar to the ridges of the ancient Great Wall in central Yunnan. The buildings were all built of stone. From the processing method of the stones and the architectural scales, one can see that the settlement had reached a high level of civilization.

  The building base, flagstones and complete wall, which are rarely seen in other ancient buildings, show it had functioned as a city. The video cameras have recorded such images as 20-30 meter long stone walls, 2-3 meter wide flagstones, 3-4 meter long stone stripes and stones with holes or grooves.

  The ruins are composed of eight stone buildings, scattered within an area 2-km long and 1.2-km wide. The buildings are in different sizes, of which the five at the center are connected with each other. Nos. 1, 2 and 3 have been confirmed as being part of an architectural complex, but the other five need to be investigated further.

  The ruins are believed to have been formed during a great natural disaster. The mountains they sat against show obvious fracture and subsidence tracks. Whether they sank directly into water or were inundated after a water mouth became blocked by a landslide needs further study.

  Professor Yu believes that the inspection of the ruins provides further proof that an important civilized period prevailed in ancient Yunnan. Exploring, sifting and publicizing the civilization of the ancient "Yunnan Kingdom" will exert a tremendous influence on China's underwater archaeological study.

  (CIIC by Xiao Li 03/22/2001)