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China finds 3,600-year-old palace

(Beijing Daily)

17:13, December 13, 2011

Edited and translated by People's Daily Online

Chinese archaeologists recently found a palace dating back to about 3,600 years ago at the Erlitou Bronze Age site in Henan province.

It is the best-preserved palace ever found at the site and may be the prototype for places of worship during the Shang dynasty.

In the Erlitou site's palace area, archaeologists found the rammed-earth foundation of the palace, which has at least three courtyards and covers a total area of more than 2,100 square meters.

The Erlitou site contains cultural relics ranging from the Yangshao and Longshan cultures about 5,000 years ago to the Eastern Zhou and Eastern Han dynasties. The site had its heyday during the Xia dynasty from the 21st to 17th century BC, and the culture created during this period is known as the "Erlitou Culture."

"The Erlitou palace complex is an amazing discovery, and is the earliest imperial palace in China," said Xu Hong, head of the archaeological team at the Erlitou site and director of the Department of the Xia-Shang-Zhou Archaeology under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The palace complex covers a total area of nearly 110,000 square meters and is the oldest of its kind in China.

"Built about 3,700 years ago, the neatly designed palace complex, along with surrounding buildings, forms the center of the ancient capital. Although it is only one-seventh the size of the Imperial Palaces of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the Erlitou palace complex is the prototype of all later imperial palaces in China," Xu said.

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