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Archaeologists discover Emperor Yao's capital

The first kingdom with the name China was located in Shanxi province at a site that traces its history back 4,200 years, archaeologists announced on Thursday.

Archaeologists discover Emperor Yao's capital
Images of the Taosi site in China, as well as a painted plate with dragon 
design found at the site [Credit: Cultural China]
Taosi, sitting at the foot of Chongshan Mountain in Linfen's Xiangfen county, has been shown to be the capital of the Yao period kingdom, said Wang Wei of the Institute of Archaeology under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"The site has the earliest kingdom relics we've found in the middle reaches of the Yellow River," Wang said. "Yao was one of the sage emperors living in the area. We believe Taosi is the empire's capital."

Excavation of the Taosi site began in 1978. Nearly 40 years of archaeological studies have shown that a highly civilized society existed at the time. Several large tombs, copperware and porcelain were found in the site, which covers an area of 2.8 million square meters.

"Palaces, royal tombs, ceremonial buildings, storage areas, as well as fortifications such as high walls and moats, could indicate a capital settlement," Wang said.

"Taosi is what some historical materials identify as Pingyang, the capital of the Yao regime," Wang said. "Our studies proved that the emperor Yao is not just a legend, but a true story."

Archaeologists discover Emperor Yao's capital
Chinese Emperor Yao. Color on silk, Song Dynasty 
[Credit: National Palace Museum]
Pingyang is the ancient name of the city of Linfen, where the temple and mausoleum of Yao are located. Many Confucian histories praised rulers Yao and Shun as models of morality and benevolence, but skeptics of the early 20th century challenged their existence.

"Years of archaeological studies gave the world a close look at the history and also made legends into reality," said Hu Suping, director of the Publicity Department of Shanxi province.

"The Chinese culture has a long history, and archaeology gives more people a chance to explore the past for a better look into the future," she said.

The earliest Chinese character also was found as part of the site's long study. "It hasn't been recognized precisely, but looks very familiar with ming (life), yang (sun) or yao," Wang said.

China originally could be termed as "the state in Central Land", Wang said.

"The trail of Chinese civilization appeared foggy in the late days of the third millennium BC," he said. "Given this, many Chinese scholars focused on the Taosi Site, trying to find some evidence to demonstrate the site is the earliest state in China."

Source: China Daily [June 19, 2015]

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