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Ancient underground courtyards sinking out of sight

Among the hilly and loess areas west of central China¡¯s Henan Province, an unusual kind of ancient underground dwelling ¡¡ complete with blooming gardens, kitchens and rooms ¡¡ is drawing domestic and foreign tourists who call it a ¡°miracle construction.¡±

The ¡°sunken courtyard¡± is closely related to the tradition of the primitive ancients' cave dwelling. With a history of 4,000 years, the sunken courtyard is one kind of a common residence in China¡¯s hilly and loess areas.

Within the province¡¯s boundaries of San Men Straits, you can still find some sunken courtyards scattered in the area. In fact, several dozens of families are still living in those ancient dwellings. Such courtyards today, however, are vanishing.

In recent years, some Chinese experts successively arrived at Shan county of Henan Province to unlock the mystery behind the sunken courtyards. They believed that, as remains of ancient cave dwellings, the sunken courtyard has a higher value in the study of history, architecture, geology and sociology.

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