Chinese archaeologists have excavated the largest and best preserved cultural ruins of the Tang Dynasty (618-907) in the Three Gorges reservoir areas.
"They are the only cultural relics of so large a scale of the Tang Dynasty ever revealed in that area," said Li Yingfu, deputy professor of the Department of Culture and History of Sichuan University, who is leading a team to conduct a rush excavation of cultural relics in the reservoir area.
The Mingyueba Ruins, located on the southern bank of Xiaojiang River running into the Yangtze River, cover an area of 150,000 square meters.
Li and his colleagues began the excavation two years ago. Excavation has been done on 13,000 square meters since then. Archaeologists have discovered 20 buildings and 20 tombs of the Tang Dynasty. They also found stone Buddha sculptures in the style of the late Tang Dynasty.
Almost all the buildings discovered in the Mingyueba Ruins were made of stone, in the typical style of the Three Gorges area.
Due to the important value of Mingyueba Ruins, it was listed as one of the top ten archaeological discoveries in the Three Gorges reservoir in 2001.
Mingyueba is to be flooded after the Three Gorges Project begins to store water in 2003. "We must finish the rescue work by the end of this year," Li said.
To rescue thousands of ancient cultural relics buried under the Three Gorges reservoir area and protect them well, numerous archaeological teams have come here for rush excavations, which will cost over one billion yuan.
According to historical records, there was an important saltworks in Yun'an County, 15 kilometers away from Mingyueba. Officials had been here to take charge of salt production. Experts confirmed the ruins used to be a salt distribution center.
The discovery of the Mingyueba Ruins is conducive to the study of the archaeological and cultural research and geographical evolution in the area, Li said.
"No other big ruins have been discovered at the Three Gorges area, and it is rare too in the whole country," he said.
"Through further research on the ruins, archaeologists will find more important materials unrecorded by historical books," he added.
(Xinhua News Agency March 31, 2002)