|16 December 2011
3,600-year-old high status structure found in China
Chinese archaeologists recently found a high status structure dating back to about 3,600 years ago at the Erlitou Bronze Age site in Henan province. It is the best-preserved structure ever found at the site and may be the prototype for the temples of the Shang dynasty (1600 BCE - 1046 BCE). In the Erlitou site, archaeologists have found the foundation of the structure, which has at least three courtyards and covers a total area of more than 2,100 square meters.
The Erlitou site contains artefacts ranging from the Yangshao and Longshan cultures about 5,000 years ago to the Eastern Zhou and Eastern Han dynasties, but the site had its heyday during the Xia dynasty from the 21st to 17th century BCE, and the culture created during this period is known as the 'Erlitou Culture.' +
"The Erlitou complex is an amazing discovery, and this could be the earliest imperial palace in China," said Xu Hong, head of the archaeological team at the Erlitou site and director of the Department of the Xia-Shang-Zhou Archaeology under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
The complex covers a total area of nearly 110,000 square meters and is the oldest of its kind in China. "Built about 3,700 years ago, the neatly designed strucxture, along with surrounding buildings, forms the center of the ancient capital. Although it is only one-seventh the size of the Imperial Palaces of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, this complex is the prototype of all later imperial palaces in China," Xu said.
Edited from People's Daily Online (13 December 2011)
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