Archaeologists have discovered what is believed to have been the largest palace of the ancient Shang Dynasty (about 1500 BC - 1000 BC) at Anyang, in central China's Henan Province.
The ruins were found near the site of the ruins of Shang's capital, Yin Ruins.
The rectangular building, measuring 173 meters long and 90 meters wide, is the biggest pre-Qin Dynasty building ever found. Corridors and doorways of the main hall indicate the building once housed royalty.
But burned floors and walls and charcoal remains reveal its collapse in a fierce fire.
"Fortunately, the palace suffered no more damage since the fire," said Dr Tang Jigen, an expert from the Institute of Archaeology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
The original appearance of the palace can be discerned from its well-preserved foundations, pillar holes, steps and door paths.
"The discovery will also provide valuable clues in the study of ancient China's urbanization process and the link between social development and environmental change," said Tang.
The ancient Shang migrated many times, leaving behind eight recorded capitals.
The capital in Anyang is considered the Shang Dynasty's largest and one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of the 20th Century.
A major palace group ruins was found there in the autumn of 2001 and 25 foundations have been excavated since.
(Xinhua News Agency August 18, 2002)