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Tongwan City: The only existing Xiongnu capital in China

People's Daily Online)  08:46, February 21, 2013  

Photo shows the existing Tongwan City Site in Jingbian County, Shaanxi Province. (

Edited and translated by Ye Xin, People's Daily Online

Tongwan city, also conventionally called Baichengzi, was the capital of a kingdom founded by the Southern Xiongnu. It is the only city of the Xiongnu that has ever been found. The well-preserved Tongwan City site is located 55 kilometers to the north of Jingbian county in Shaanxi Province, close to Inner Mongolia. The city is at the southern edge of the Maowusu Sands of the Ordos Desert, on what was formerly a strategic site in the center of the Ordos plateau. The city has been surveyed and some elements have been restored, but not yet excavated.

The Great Wall was built to contain the Xiongnu threat, and Tongwan City was the main Xiongnu capital that stood on other side of the wall.

Tongwan City site is the site of the capital of Daxia, a kingdom founded by Helian Bobo with Southern Xiongnu descents in 419 A.D. The Xiongnu founded their steppe empire in the 3rd century B.C. Helian Bobo died in 425 A.D., and Helian Chang succeeded him as the ruler of the city.

Tongwan City site in light grey consists of the outer city and the inner city. The inner city again is divided into two parts - east city and west city. From east to west orderly lies the outer city, the east city and the west city.

The outer city is rectangle in plane, with a perimeter of 4,700 meters. The east city and the west city are separated by a wall. The perimeter of the east city is 2,566 meters and that of the west city is 2,470 meters. There are four coigns higher than the city walls on four angles of the east city and the west city, taking on a shape of square or rectangle in plane. The coign in the southwest angle is as high as 40 meters. The existing wall is 1 to 10 meters above the ground.

The inner city remains the same as it was. Among the excavated are some utensils for daily use such as earthenware tiles.

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(Editor:YeXin、Zhang Qian)


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