Following a rigorous debate among professionals, experts and project leaders, the list of the top 10 archeological discoveries in Zhejiang Province for 2022 has been released.
Two ancient relic sites excavated in Hangzhou, the provincial capital, were on the list. The first highlight was found in the nationally famous Jingci Temple.
For centuries, pilgrims from Zhejiang and other provinces have been frequenting this place of worship regularly. Ever since the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period (AD 907-979), the temple has been known for its magnificence and its association with prominent monks and intellectuals.
Over the past 1,000 years, it has been rebuilt several times. Last year, the Hangzhou government launched a project to renovate the temple and invited professionals from the Hangzhou Institute of Archeology to dig its southwestern part.
So far, about 3,000 square meters have been excavated and 650 pieces of fragments dating from the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period to the Song Dynasty (960-1279) were found.
An octagonal foundation was discovered with a clear layout, porch, patio and drains. The patio is situated in the center, dividing the octagon into four trapezoids.
According to the archives, the foundation is believed to be the original Five-hundred Luohan Pavilion of the temple.
In Chinese Buddhism, a luohan (罗汉) is a person who has gained insight into the true nature of existence and achieved spiritual enlightenment.
The pavilion was ruined through the dynasties. Historically, it worshipped 500 luohan, which was rare at the time.
Besides, the researchers also excavated the ruins of drains and manholes, which make up an entire an entire drainage system in ancient times. It provides historians with materials to learn about the ancient building techniques of that era.
Jingci Temple is famous for the Evening Bell Ringing at Nanping Hill, one of the top scenic sites of West Lake. The two-story bell tower houses a two-ton bell with a deep, resonant voice. Every New Year's Eve it is crowded with people who want to strike the bell and pray for family and close friends.
During the Song Dynasty, Zen emerged as the dominant stream within Chinese Buddhism. The bureaucratic system entered into Zen temples throughout the country, and a highly organized system of temple rank and administration developed. The royal court ranked Jingci Temple as among the top five Zen temples.
Zen is a school of Mahayana Buddhism that originated in China during the Tang Dynasty (618-907). It was strongly influenced by Taoism, and developed as a distinguished school of Chinese Buddhism. Zen emphasizes rigorous meditation practice, insight into Buddha's nature, and the personal expression of this insight in daily life, especially for the benefit of others.
The second highlight is the Zhujiaqiao Relic Site. It was discovered when the local government was building a hospital. During construction, ancient pottery pieces and jade articles were unearthed.
Archeologists were soon called in. Thus far, they have dug about 10,200 square meters and found 350 relic spots, including tombs, wells, foundations, as well as 2,800 relic pieces.
Zhujiaqiao is believed to be a Liangzhu period site. It offers evidence that Liangzhu people didn't separate living areas from graves, a lifestyle utterly different from modern-day people.
The Liangzhu Civilization thrived in the present-day Yangtze River Delta region about 5 millennia ago. Like other Liangzhu period counterparts, jade articles, including jade pearls and jade tubes, have also been uncovered in Zhujiaqiao.
For years, archeologists have discovered a group of Liangzhu period settlements across the Yangtze River Delta. However, no relic site of the same period was ever found on the southern bank of the Qiantang River. Now, Zhujiaqiao has filled the void.
Apart from the Liangzhu relics, the researchers also discovered human activities dating back to the Autumn and Spring Period (770-476 BC) through the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), amplifying the materials for learning about social changes and hierarchy.
The Zhejiang government has accelerated the excavation of the Liangzhu Ruins since the site was included on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2019. The discovery of Zhujiaqiao is further proof of the thriving Liangzhu Civilization.