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Tang Dynasty (618-907)

After the Han Dynasty came the Three Kingdoms Period (220-265), the Jin Dynasty (265-420), the Southern and Northern Dynasties (420-589) and the Sui Dynasty (581-618). Then came the Tang Dynasty, established by Li Yuan in 618 with its capital at Chang'an (Xi'an). Agriculture, handicrafts and commerce flourished; technologies for textile manufacturing and dyeing, pottery and porcelain production, smelting and shipbuilding were further developed. Woodblock printings of dictionaries and almanacs and Buddhist scriptures were in circulation. The Grand Canal also helped the flow of merchandise. Chang'an became a cultural and international trade center and along with Luoyang, Yangzhou, and Guangzhou a major commercial center. During the Tang Dynasty cultural relations were established with many countries, including Japan, Korea, India, Persia and Arabia. By the 660s, China's influence had firmly taken root in the Tarim basin and Ili River valley in today's Xijiang in the West, even extending to many city-states in Central Asia.

China's Top 10 Archaeological Finds of 2003

A panel of leading Chinese archaeologists and historians faced a difficult decision in selecting China's top 10 archaeological finds of 2003. All of the 20 finalists added new and important dimensions to the history of the localities where they were found, as well as to the nation. The final decision was based on the historical, scientific and artistic values of all the finds, according to Xu Pingfang, the archaeologist and chairman of the Chinese Society of Archaeology. China's top 10 archaeological finds of 2003 were:

New finds at Niuheliang site, Lingyuan County, Liaoning Province. This New Stone Age site was discovered 20 years ago, when researchers unearthed ruins of altars, temples and tombs of a prehistoric kingdom. The site dates back 5,500 to 6,000 years. In 2003, a team of archaeologists began the 16th excavation at the site and brought to light more relics, including a jade human figurine and jade dragons.

Site of Xia Dynasty Dashigu city, Zhengzhou, Henan Province. The Xia Dynasty (21st century - 16th century BC) remains largely a mystery because of the lack of written records. However, the Dashigu city ruins, near the Mangshan Mountains and the Yellow River in the suburbs of Zhengzhou, in 2003 offered up more evidence to give researchers insight into what they now believe was a military city or capital of a subordinate kingdom of the Xia Dynasty.

Bronze ware of Yangjia Village, Meixian County, Shaanxi Province. In January 2003, five farmers sighted a piece of bronze while working the soil. Instead of removing it, they guarded the site for archaeologists who discovered more than 4,000 Chinese characters inscribed on bronze pieces of the Western Zhou Dynasty (1046 - 771 BC).

Bronze workshops near Zhouyuan, Fufeng County, Shaanxi Province. Zhouyuan has been a treasure trove of ancient bronze ware for decades. In April 2003, archaeologists stumbled upon the ruins of bronze workshops spread across Zhuangbai and Lijia villages where it appears this bronze ware was made. The researchers named it the Lijia (Li Family) Bronze Workshop. Here they found, among other pieces, pottery moulds with intricate engravings for the making of the bronzes.

Han Dynasty terracotta warrior pit, Weishan, Shandong Province. The discovery of the Han-dynasty (206 BC - AD 220) pit is China's "third largest pit of terracotta warriors and horses," according to Professor Cui Dayong of Shandong University, who led the excavation.

Jin Dynasty tomb beside Xiyan (Inkstone Washing) Pool, Linyi County, Shandong Province. The tomb, where three children were buried, yielded the largest number of relics from a Jin (AD 265 - 420) burial site unearthed so far in the province. Among the finds, some of which are now listed among the finest cultural relics found in recent years, is a pottery container in the shape of a man riding a lion, worked with great detail.

Remains of North Sima Gate, Zhaoling Mausoleum, Shaanxi Province. The Tang Dynasty (AD 618 - 907) is often referred to as a period in which ancient Chinese civilization reached its zenith. Excavations at the North Sima Gate to the Zhaoling Mausoleum provided significant information on the study of imperial burial rites and mausoleum architecture in ancient China, especially in the Tang Dynasty.

Liao Dynasty tomb, Tuerji Mountains, Tongliao, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. This tomb of a Khitan aristocrat is the second well-preserved large tomb from the Liao Dynasty (AD 916 - 1125) found so far in China. Researchers found quantities of copper, silver, gold, silk and lacquer and wood pieces. Most of the gold and silver pieces are engraved with animal and human figures. The tomb's occupant was clad in 11 layers of clothing and placed inside a casket covered with colored paintings. Murals were found on the walls of the tomb chamber. The rich variety of materials provides insights into the history of the Khitans and the ethnic group's exchanges with the late Tang Dynasty and early Liao Dynasty.

Jining City ruins, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. These ruins of a Yuan Dynasty (AD 1279 - 1368) city were found during a highway construction survey. The site lies on the route for the highway between Hohhot, the regional capital, and Jining, slightly to its northeast. The most interesting finds at the ruins were ancient storage spaces. Researchers unearthed samples of pottery and porcelain that originated in the royal kilns of the Yuan Dynasty.

Royal kilns, Jingdezhen, Jiangxi Province. Jingdezhen, the modern porcelain capital of China that was the supplier to the imperial household in the Ming (AD 1368 - 1644) and Qing (AD 1644 - 1911) dynasties, has a history that goes back more than 600 years. Some of the porcelain and pottery unearthed in 2003 is of exceptional quality.

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