Handan, December 12 (CNN) -- 7 years of Yecheng archaeology: Yecheng should not be underestimated

Author: Niu Lin, translated by Wang Tian

"Yecheng and Nanjing have the reputation of 'the hometown of the Three Kingdoms and the ancient capital of the Six Dynasties', Nanjing is the capital of Wu during the Three Kingdoms period, Yecheng is the capital of Wei, Nanjing is the 'Southern Six Dynasties', Yecheng is the 'Northern Six Dynasties', neither of them has achieved nationwide unification, but they have experienced a number of dynasties." Talking about the historical status of Yecheng (now Linzhang County, Handan City, Hebei Province), He Liqun, an associate researcher at the Institute of Archaeology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the head of the Yecheng archaeological team, interpreted it this way.

Looking at Taihang in the west, Qilu in the east, Zhengchu in the south, and Youyan in the north, Yecheng is located at the junction of Shanxi, Hebei, Shandong, and Henan provinces, located in the hinterland of the Central Plains, guarding the south gate of Yanzhao, known as "the waist and spine of the world, the throat of the Central Plains". Although the capital was built in troubled times, from Cao Wei to Northern Qi, Yecheng has always been a place where hundreds of thousands of craftsmen gathered, a place where agriculture flourished and rich, and a place where merchants and celebrities gathered.

As one of the famous ancient capitals in Chinese history, Yecheng has undergone many dynastic changes, changed hands and changed hands, and cultures from different regions collided, influenced and infiltrated each other, gradually giving birth, creating and forming a unique historical culture with Yecheng characteristics. "Yecheng is the birthplace of the capital's planning, the birthplace of Jian'an literature, the place where Buddhism is propagated and spread, and the place where multiculturalism collides." He Liqun pointed out that this has been confirmed by 40 years of archaeological discoveries and research.

Floor plan of Yecheng ruins. Courtesy of Yecheng archaeological team

The first large-scale capital city with "symmetrical central axis".

40 years of archaeological excavations have fully shown that Yecheng, which has been recognized by the Chinese Ancient Capital Society as "a model of ancient Chinese capital construction", has many innovations in the planning and construction of the capital. In this regard, He Liqun said, for example, Yecheng urban planning under the Sui and Tang dynasties, but Cao Wei built Yebei City actually did not directly follow the old system of the Qin and Han dynasties, but on the basis of inheriting the tradition, created the concept of urban construction first planning and then construction, it is the first "central axis symmetry" large capital city in the history of Chinese urban development.

"Cao Wei Ye Beicheng changed the lack of unified planning of the capital in the past dynasties, the palace office is scattered, the road is tortuous, the traffic is inconvenient and other drawbacks, in the construction of the capital city to implement a unified design, the city buildings are in strict accordance with the principle of symmetry of the central axis of the north and south arterial roads, an east-west avenue will divide the city into north and south two districts, the south area is mainly a civilian residential area, a single palace city is planned in the center of the north district, the east is the official office and the princes and nobles live in Qili, and the west is the royal garden." He Liqun explained.

"From the perspective of tracing the origin, the Yebei City built by Cao Wei, with its axial symmetrical urban pattern and clear functional zoning layout, is of epoch-making significance. It was also the first capital city in China in the Middle Ages to explicitly implement a single palace system. As the capital city planned first and built later, Cao Weiye Beicheng created a new model of urban planning and construction, which was inherited by the capitals of later generations of China. He Liqun said.

In 534 AD, the Northern Wei Dynasty was divided into the Eastern Wei Dynasty and the Western Wei Dynasty, and the Eastern Wei Dynasty minister Gao Huan held the Xiaojing Emperor Yuan Shanjian hostage and moved the capital from Luoyang to Yecheng. At that time, Yebei City, which had lasted for more than 300 years, was in tatters, and it was recorded that "<>,<> households" moved from Luoyang to Yecheng. In order to solve the problem of resettlement, the south city of Ye was built according to the south wall of Ye Beicheng (that is, the inner city of Ye city in the Eastern Wei Dynasty and Northern Qi Dynasty), the two cities were built next to each other, and the north and south were connected, and the south wall of the north city was the north wall of the south city, which was roughly a "day" shaped structure, and there was a larger scale of outer Guocheng district on its periphery.

According to the literature, Ye Nancheng "is the previous generation of the charter, and the lower is modeled Luojing", and its system "covers Luoyang and Beiye". It is obvious that the Yecheng of the Eastern Wei and Northern Qi Dynasty, which was more ambitious in scale, was in the same vein as the Yecheng of Cao Wei and integrated into one.

Schematic diagram of the layout and central axis of Yecheng. Courtesy of Yecheng archaeological team

"Miyagi is the most critical node in the planning and construction of the capital city in the past dynasties, and the most spectacular and glorious part of Yecheng is also in Miyagi District." He Liqun said that since 2015, the Yecheng archaeological team has begun large-scale exploration and excavation of the Miyagi District in Yenan City. "This further confirms that, like Yebei City, Yenan City has a clear north-south axis, with Zhumingmen, Zhumingmen Street, Miyagi Sanmen, Taiji Palace, Zhaoyang Hall and other major palaces as the central axis, and the city gates, roads, and main buildings of the city are strictly symmetrical in the central axis, and the vertical and horizontal streets are vertically staggered and distributed in a checkerboard shape."

Interestingly, compared to Yebei City, the turtle-shaped city structure of Yenan City is quite unique. Archaeological exploration shows that the east, west and south sides of the Yenan City wall are soothing curves, and the two corners of the southeast and southwest are in a circular arc, which confirms that Yenan City is a turtle-shaped city in the literature. This is the earliest turtle-shaped city found in China so far. From a military point of view, this turtle castle has a stronger military defense capability.

So far, in the history of the construction of China's capital, the development trajectory of the central axis symmetry system developed by Cao Wei and Yebei has become clearer and clearer. He Liqun said that the construction of the capital city after Cao Wei Yecheng, from Luoyang City of Wei and Jin Dynasty to Luoyang City of Northern Wei Dynasty, and then to Yecheng of Northern Qi of Eastern Wei Dynasty, all inherited the three characteristics of Yecheng central axis symmetry, single palace city, and division according to function, which were inherited in one line, and finally condensed into Chang'an City in Sui and Tang Dynasties.

On November 2018, 11, the lotus raspberry eaves foundation unearthed in the main hall of No. 25 Miyagi District, Yenancheng. Courtesy of Yecheng archaeological team

Chang'an City in the Sui and Tang dynasties can be regarded as the culmination of the construction of Chinese capitals in the Middle Ages, and its layout influenced the construction of ancient capitals in the entire East Asian region. From Tokyo City in the Northern Song Dynasty to the capital of the Yuan Dynasty and Beijing City in the Ming and Qing Dynasties, they all continued to develop and evolve on the basis of Chang'an City in the Sui and Tang Dynasties. The construction of capital cities in Japan and South Korea was also strongly influenced, and Fujiwara-kyo, Heijo-kyo (Nara), and Heian-kyo (Kyoto) in Japan, and Silla Wangkyo in South Korea were all imitated or referenced in the construction of Chang'an Castle in the Sui and Tang dynasties in China.

"The origin of the planning and layout of Chang'an City in the Sui and Tang dynasties began in Yecheng. Therefore, in the history of capital planning and construction in the Middle Ages, Yecheng (including the northern city of Cao Wei and the southern city of Yecheng in the Northern Qi Dynasty of Eastern Wei Dynasty) is a milestone in the construction of the capital city in East Asia, which is the most significant value of the Yecheng site and one of the most important achievements of Yecheng archaeology in the past 40 years. He Liqun said.

The birthplace of Jian'an literature

Yecheng is well-known for the three bronze sparrows that are well-known at home and abroad.

As the commanding heights of Yecheng three Taiwan, at the beginning of the construction stand on the west city wall, are eight to ten zhang high, the pavilions and pavilions on it, row upon row, "majestic and lofty, its high as a mountain". It is not only the landmark building of Yecheng, but also the pinnacle of ancient Chinese Taixie architecture. Nowadays, it is a ground marker that can be directly related to the Wei Wuxiong wind and Jian'an wind bones before 1800.

It should be clarified that the Tongque Terrace in "Romance of the Three Kingdoms" is a Tibetan gold house built by Cao Cao for the Jiangnan nu "Er Qiao"; In reality, Tongquetai is a place where Cao's father and son convened the "Seven Sons of Jian'an" and other literati to feast and drink, and it is also the place where the historical allusion Wen Ji returned to the Han Dynasty, wrote a chapter, and the Tongque feast. Today, thousands of years later, people still can't help but think about how Cai Wenji's touching "Eighteen Beats of Hu Ji" was played in Tongquetai and became a swan song for the ages.

At that time, after the capital of Yecheng, Cao Cao established the policy of "external martial arts, internal literature", Ye Xia talent gathered, the literary style was prosperous, with the "three Cao" (Cao Cao, Cao Pi, Cao Zhi) father and son as the leader, Kong Rong and other "Jian'an Seven Sons" as the backbone, including many literati writers "Ye Wenren Group" formed. They frequently came to Tongquetai to recite poems, created and prospered "Jian'an literature", and created "Jian'an style bones", becoming a wonderful flower in the history of Chinese literature, and was praised by Guo Moruo as "epoch-making in the history of Chinese literature".

From "Hanyin" to "Wei Xiang", looking back at the Jian'an era when poets were numerous and Huazhang was competing, Cao Cao's poems were generous and sad, and the atmosphere was majestic, showing the turmoil in the late Han Dynasty, and had the reputation of "real record" and "poetry history"; His writing is clear and clear, and he is known as "the ancestor of transforming articles". Cao Pi's Yan Ge Xing is the earliest surviving complete seven-character poem, and his Treatise on Classics is the first literary monograph. Cao Zhi's early creations were filled with the passion of making contributions, and his later poems expressed his worries and sorrows, "the backbone is extremely high, and the words are luxuriant", which can be regarded as "the masterpiece of Jian'an". The "Seven Sons of Jian'an" Kong Rong, Chen Lin, Wang Cang, Xu Gan, Ruan Yu, Ying Ling, and Liu Zhen "pity the wind and the moon, the pond garden, the grace and the glory, and the feast" in Yecheng, not only describe the major events of the military state, express the ideals of life, but also express the daily tastes, leaving a colorful page in the history of Chinese literature.

This is the first veritable literary group in the history of Chinese literature, and the number of people in its heyday was "hundreds". Chen Zi of the Tang Dynasty sighed "Han and Wei Feng bones, Jin and Song Mo Biography", Li Bai has the sentence "Penglai article Jian'an bone", and Du Fu said "Poetry looks at Zi Jianqin", full of deep respect for that literary era. In the specific historical environment at the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty, the three Cao, the seventh son and other Ye Wenwen people experienced a magnificent era together, they took Yecheng as the center, not only to promote martial arts and strategize thousands of miles, but also to extend the most sensitive literary tentacles to the bottom of the society, pay attention to the suffering of the people, face the social reality, abandon the style of admiration and hypocrisy, and achieve a large number of immortal works, opening a generation of literary pioneers and models.

Panorama of Jinfengtai. Courtesy of Yecheng archaeological team

"Yecheng was not only Cao Cao's political and military base, but also the cultural center at that time." He Liqun said.

Unfortunately, due to the frequent wars and the flooding of the Zhanghe River in history, now, after archaeological excavations, only the southeast corner of the surface of Tongque Terrace remains, with a height of about 5 meters. The ice well platform, named after the well where the ice is hidden, has been completely washed away by the Zhanghe River, and the scope of its site has been confirmed by archaeological exploration, but there are no architectural remains above the ground. The best preserved of the three is Jinfengtai, which is 12 meters high, 120 meters long from north to south, and 71 meters wide from east to west. This is also one of the few remaining relics on the surface of the Yecheng ruins, and it is also an extremely rare remains of high-rise buildings in the Three Kingdoms period of China.

Tongquetai unearthed the head of the mantle. Courtesy of Yecheng archaeological team

It is worth mentioning that as early as 1986, the Yecheng archaeological team conducted archaeological excavations on the Tongquetai site and unearthed a considerable bluestone skull. The head is 0.49 meters high and 1.92 meters long, with a slightly upturned front half and exaggerated eyebrow carvings. "Such a huge shape shows the majesty and magnificence of Tongquetai." He Liqun said. From May 2008 to March 5, the skull participated in the "Great Three Kingdoms Exhibition" in Japan, with a total of one million visitors, setting a record for the largest number of visitors in the exhibition of Chinese cultural relics in Japan.

The origin and origin of several Buddhist sects

Yecheng also has a resounding "name" - the "Buddhist capital of China" in the Middle Ages.

According to the literature, Yecheng is one of the important towns of Buddhism in the east. Yexia Buddhism was first developed in the early 4th century AD in the Later Zhao period of the Sixteen Kingdoms, after the development of the Northern Wei Dynasty, flourished in the middle of the 6th century AD in the Eastern Wei Dynasty and the Northern Qi Dynasty, and was the center of Buddhist culture in the northern region after Datong and Luoyang.

Historically, Yecheng has given birth to many famous monks and Buddhist leaders. During the Later Zhao period, the Buddhist Tucheng of the Western Regions promoted Buddhism in the northern region of the Central Plains, and was extremely respected by the Later Zhao royal family. At that time, Buddha Tucheng often followed hundreds of disciples, more than 10,000 disciples before and after, Zhu Buddha and other dozens of monks from Tianzhu, Kangju (note: the name of the ancient Western Regions) to follow the law, the famous monk Shi Dao'an and so on also crossed the river to receive teaching.

In 534 A.D., the Eastern Wei Dynasty moved its capital to Yecheng, and the monks and nuns in Luoyang City entered Yecheng with them, and Yexia Buddhism flourished. "Luoyang Jialan Ji" contains, "Ji Yongxi is difficult, the emperor moves to Ye, and the monks and nuns of the temples also migrate with the times. It is precisely because of the eastward migration of a large number of Chinese and Indian monks that the center of Buddhism in the Central Plains shifted from Luoyang to Yecheng.

At the beginning of the Northern Qi Dynasty, Yexia Buddhism reached its heyday. "Continuing the Biography of High Monks" contains, "It belongs to the prosperity of Gaoqi, and Buddhism is flourishing." All under the big temple, roughly four thousand. Seeing the monks and nuns, only 80,000. The distance between the seats is more than 200. I often heard that there were more than 10,000. Therefore, the heroes of the United States, the salty return to the country. "The Western Regions monks Bodhi Liuzhi, Lenamoti, Buddha Fanduo, Nalianti Liyesha, and the famous monks of the Middle Earth, Huiguang, Fashang, Daojiao, Sangda, Lingyu, Huiyuan, etc., have successively translated scriptures and commented on the scriptures and preached the scriptures in Yecheng. The Hinayana of Vitana and Enlightenment, the Mahayana Theory of Land, Huayan, Prajna, Lotus Flower, Pure Land, Nirvana, Zen and Vinaya and other Buddhist ideas are integrated here.

On January 2012, 1, the excavation site of the Buddhist statue burial pit in Dongguo District, Yecheng Ruins. (Data map) courtesy of Yecheng archaeological team

The subsequent martyrdom of Jiande caused a heavy blow to Yecheng Buddhism. In the sixth year of Jiande (577 AD), Emperor Wu of the Northern Zhou Dynasty marched into the Northern Qi Dynasty, captured Yedu, and carried out the campaign of exterminating Buddhism to the whole territory of his rule, with more than 4,300 monasteries in the world, and gave the princes and nobles as mansions, ordered the monks to return nearly <> million people, and burned the scriptures, and confiscated the property of the temple.

As a result, the monks of Yecheng dispersed to all parts of the country, but it also made Yecheng Buddhism spread and spread, and Buddhist ideas blossomed everywhere in a wider range. The strange interest of Buddhism in the Northern and Southern Dynasties is just as Tang Yongtong said: "The south is still in the metaphysical doctrine, and it inherits the system since the Wei and Jin dynasties." The north focuses on religious behavior, and the sects after the Sui and Tang dynasties are connected. ”

On January 2012, 1, the Buddha head was excavated from the burial pit of Buddhist statues in Dongguo District, Yecheng Ruins. (Data map) courtesy of Yecheng archaeological team

"Among the Buddhist sects of the Sui and Tang dynasties, at least seven or eight sects originated or originated in Yecheng." He Liqun said that although Yecheng Buddhism ended with Zhou Wu's destruction of the law and Yang Jian's destruction of the city, its Buddhist essence was deeply rooted in the Sui and Tang dynasties' earth theory, Huayan, Fahua, Pure Land, Zen, Vinaya and the three-order religion.

A place where Eastern and Western cultures collide

Yecheng, located on the north-south transportation artery, has historically been an important node on the Silk Road, a cultural exchange channel between the East and the West. Especially since the Eastern Han Dynasty, more and more ethnic minorities such as Xiongnu, Xianbei, Qian, Di and Qiang have moved to Yecheng, and they have formed a large-scale, far-reaching integration of Han nationality and ethnic minorities in Yecheng.

"This kind of ethnic integration, from 'pluralism' to 'unity', created conditions for the reunification of the Sui and Tang dynasties and promoted the formation and development of the Chinese nation." He Liqun said.

The Northern Qi covered bowl tower unearthed in the Dongguo District of Yecheng Ruins. Courtesy of Yecheng archaeological team

As the political, economic, cultural and religious center of the northern part of the Central Plains from the 3rd century to the 6th century AD, Yecheng became the meeting point of cultural collision and ethnic integration at that time. With the extension and prosperity of the Silk Road, Yecheng not only had extensive exchanges with the Western Regions in terms of political system, capital planning, culture and art, architecture and sculpture, but also had a direct or indirect impact on Japan and the Korean Peninsula in the East.

For human civilization, Yecheng has both the shadow of the west, and the Central Plains Han culture to feed and blend, it absorbs the nourishment of several ancient civilizations, spit in, the formation of a unique Yecheng culture, and then influence and nourish to a more far-reaching region. (ENDS)