Did you know how farmers' life in Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD) was like? We know something about the official history of Han Dynasty through the ancient Chang'an city. But for the first time, we can have a look at how the Chinese farmers lived more than 2,000 years ago as the Sanyangzhuang village ruin in Anyang city in Central China's Henan province was discovered on Feb. 20 this year.
Similar to the ancient Pompeii, life scene in Sanyangzhuang village was almost "frozen" by the sudden disaster and thus kept intact.
The discovery of the Han Dynasty village
When dredging along the Xiao River in Neihuang County, people found regularly-distributed tiles and immediately reported this to Neihuang County cultural relics department.
Archeologists in Henan Province confirmed that the two sites with tile-built roof are both ruins of buildings dated to Han Dynasty.
To protect them, local water conservancy department re-locate the channel to 50 meters south of the original route. To their surprise, in the new channel, they found another two courtyards ruins and one tomb in Han Dynasty.
The two discoveries cover an area of 9,000 square meters including ancient road, walls of the courtyards, toilets, tree ruins, fields and traces of carts and cattle footprints. After sleeping for 2,000 years, the Han Dynasty village unveiled itself.
In history, the Yellow River, China's mother river, changed its channel many times. Each time it changed, it flooded many villages and fields. Later generations built new villages on the submerged villages. Sanyangzhuang village is just located along an ancient channel of the Yellow River. Archeologists find that the relics are five meters beneath the current ground surface. The rural scenery in Han Dynasty is still intact. So far, ruins of seven courtyards have been identified and archeologists only partly excavated four of them.
The ruins are valuable in many ways
Sanyangzhuang ruins have rich information and important research values for many disciplines. "The discovery is helpful for the study of economic and social structural development and farmers' life." said Gao Chongwen, director of the archaeological institute of Peking University. "This is the first discovery of its kind in China, it's not exaggerating however you stress its significance," said Gao.
As famous archeologist on Han and Tang Dynasties Xu Pingfangputs it, the Chang'an city in Han Dynasty lets us know something about ancient cities, but we didn't know how it looked like in rural areas here were no clear-cut historical records. Sanyangzhuang ruins show us the rural life in Han Dynasty because never before did we find such a large area of buildings and fields."
The discoveries also provide materials for studying the social structure in rural areas in Han Dynasty.
"The administrative institutions at that time were prefecture, county, township, village, team and another two under them but no one knows how they function. And Sanyangzhuang gives us a good chance to research something either before or after that period of time. For example, the well-field system, the field-allocation system before." said Liu Qingzhu, director of the Archeological Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). "Sanyangzhuang reflected a transitional period from slavery to feudal system. It will be of great significance for exploring ancient social transformations and family relations in Han Dynasty. "
Since the research explores people's production and life in rural areas, it will fill a vacuum in China's archeological research. Some experts thought that farmers in Han Dynasty lived close to each other, but the facts show that they lived separately with some distance apart.
With the broad courtyard being built in the field, the living environment was actually very comfortable. With tall trees growing around the courtyard, people could raise silk worms and knit silk cloth.
This was also the first time people discovered real field in Han Dynasty. It will be the first-hand material for studies in agricultural cultivation and system. It will also provide materials for studying Yellow River's treatment and diversion in that period.
Protection plan urgently needed
Xu Pingfang suggests a protection plan for both the courtyards and the vast field relics. In future excavation, people should pay attention to the size of the area and get to know its inner structure.
Xu adds that people should collect samples on excrement, toilet, garbage and soil during the excavation so that researches can be conducted on food, diseases, crops and fertilizer at that time.
Liu Qingzhu proposes that a protection canopy be built first and a park later so that people can see the ancient social structure. Currently the land there is very sandy and not very expensive. "If the central government can invest more to protect it together with the earlier-excavated two royal tombs, there will be great prospects for the site. China has protected a lot of relics of former political, economic and cultural centers, but the ruins of ordinary rural residents are rare. So they must be well-protected," said Liu.
Sun Yingmin, deputy director of Henan Cultural Relics Bureau says they would take experts' suggestions and protect the relics together with the royal tombs with an area of nearly 2,700 hectares of pagoda tree around. There will be a large protection canopy for exhibition. The exhibition will have two parts: one on the ground and the other under ground. On the ground will be the renovated houses, fields and trees which clearly show farmers' living conditions in Han Dynasty.
By People's Daily Online