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Ancient City Unearthed Near Tomb of Hanjing Emperor

An ancient city -- thought to be an important political center with an estimated population of some 100,000 -- dating back some 2,000 years has been discovered by archeologists in the northern suburbs of Xi’an near the Yangling Tomb of the Hanjing Emperor (156-143BC).

Relics from the city show solid evidence of the cultural appearance of cities and imperial life of Han Dynasty dating back 2,000 years, which has a great significance to research on the development of Chinese cities, said Wang Baoping, a spokesman for the Yangling Archaeological Group.

Archeologists, who started their excavations last year, have determined these facts about the city: It was 2.8 miles from east to west, and about 0.62 miles north to south, occupying a space of nearly two square miles. Eleven avenues stretched east to west varying between 10 to 55 yards in width, and 31 streets ran from north to south, forming about 100 chessboard-like blocks.

Han Dynasty ruins were found in the city, including an area inhabited by officials and nobles, an area for regular citizens, a potters’ workshop area and a mint. Graves of children were found. Among some 10,000 unearthed objects were building materials such as arched tile and five-edged water pipes; daily necessities such as pottery basins and jars; and armor and weaponry made of brass or iron. A dozen wells with clay walls were found as well as the earliest Chinese bathing pool.

Archeologists think the city came into being after political dignitaries and nobles who lived far from or in the Chang’an City of Han Dynasty (roughly where Xi’an, the capital of Shaanxi Province, now stands) moved to live near the imperial mausoleum.

According to documents, among nine imperial mausoleums of the Western Han Dynasty, five had large cities beside them, with the one near Yangling Tomb of the Emperor of Hanjing being the most recent found. This ancient city was situated in Jing-Wei rivers Delta east of Yangling Tomb, facing Jingshui River in the north and Chang’an City across the Weihe River in the south. It was first a county during the Qin Dynasty, then was built into a city in the fifth year of Hanjing Emperor and existed for hundreds of years.

All unearthed relics reflect that this ancient city enjoyed wide outside contact with all kinds of urban amenities. However, why and when the city was ruined remains a mystery.

(Xinhua News Agency January 24, 2002 translated for china.org.cn by Zhang Tingting)

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