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Sands of time reclaim Grand Canal (3)

By Yao Minji   (Shanghai Daily)

10:48, January 16, 2013

The Sui-Tang Grand Canal and Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal are both parts of the 3,200km Grand Canal of China, which will be submitted for recognition as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Sui-Tang part was the first national systematic project that linked rivers, streams and lakes through a system of artificial canals around the country, creating one transport network.

The major destinations of the Sui-Tang Grand Canal were today's Xi'an in Shaanxi Province and Luoyang in Henan Province. The two cities served as capitals for different emperors during Sui and Tang dynasties.

So the canal turned westward to Anhui from Jiangsu Province to reach Henan and then turned back eastward from there, passing through Shandong to the north to reach Beijing. The extensions in Anhui and Henan provinces were deserted when Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368) authorities moved the capital to Beijing. The detour was no longer necessary. New canals were built to link Jiangsu and Shandong and other canals were redesigned in other areas to shorten the trip.

The new route that no longer went through Anhui or Henan was the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal.

"People often talk about how the Grand Canal connected northern and southern China's economy, trade and culture, which is all correct and great. But it was also essentially a state-run transportation system, and one of the main purposes was to effectively disseminate court orders from the emperor to the most remote territories so orders were implemented efficiently," says Wang Hongwu, chief curator of Sui-Tang Grand Canal Museum in Huaibei.

Major excavation

An abundance of pottery was found in archeological sites in Suzhou and Huaibei, along with parts of ancient vessels and big polished round stones that were thrown by local villagers to attack boats. The canal in this area was narrow and shallow with many turns, making the boats close to river banks and easily attacked.

Related Reading:
>>Ceramic shards led to discovery of canal
>>Where king and concubine took their lives :Suzhou
>>Ancient canal buried in silt, sand and dust
>>New 'ancient town' rises along the Grand Canal

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