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4,000 year-old City Excavated in Zhengzhou

Archaeologists have confirmed that the Dashigu cultural relics of the Xia Dynasty (21 century B.C-16 century B.C.) in the suburb of Zhengzhou, capital of Central China's Henan Province, date to a large city site of the middle and later Erlitou Culture, part of the Bronze Age from 21 century B.C. to 17 century B.C.

Covering an area of 510,000 square meters, the Dashigu city site lies near Mangshan Mountain and the Yellow River.

"The position of the ancient city is of great strategic importance, so we infer that it may be a military city or capital of a subordinate kingdom of the Xia Dynasty," said Wang Wenhua, a research member with the Zhengzhou cultural relics archaeological research institute.

From March 2002 to December 2003, Zhengzhou cultural relics archaeological research institute excavated the Dashigu city site, during which an area of 540 square meters was unearthed.

The flat rectangular city site consists of two parts: the city wall and the moat.

Most parts of the city wall were discovered nearly one meter below the earth's surface.

"Relics of the city wall were composed of several soil layers, showing that the wall had been renewed or restored many times before," said Wang.

The two moats of 2-2.8 meters deep were located parallel with each other.

Foundation remains, tombs, ash pits and ash ditches and a large amount of other remains were discovered inside the city site, mainly of the second, the third and the early fourth phase of the Erlitou Culture.

Archaeologists discovered a large number of fragments of earthen drainpipes in the ash ditches. "It shows that larger construction foundations must exist in the middle of the city site, which is to be further excavated," said Wang.

Another important discovery is a ring moat of the early Shang Dynasty (16 century B.C.-11 century B.C.), which lies between the city wall and the moats of the Xia Dynasty, and in parallel with the Xia moats.

Abundant remains of the Early Shang Dynasty were discovered inside the ring moat, "It shows that in the early Shang Dynasty, the city site remained an important residential settlement," said Wang.

"The Dashigu city site of the Xia Dynasty is the only city sitewhich can be surely defined as the Erlitou culture type discovered so far in China, filling the archaeological blanks in discoveries of city sites of the Xia Dynasty," Wang said.

"As abundant historical remains of the Xia and Shang dynasties were discovered in the city site, this discovery will be of great significance to the research on the relations between the Xia and the Shang dynasties, which is still unclear," said Wang.
(Xinhua News Agency March 22, 2004)

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