The Museum of the Former Site of Ancient TonglĘ╣shan Copper Mine, located at Daye County of Huangshi City in Hubei Province and opened to the public in December 1984, is a special museum in China to reflect the scientific and technical history of the ancient mining industry and metallurgy.
The former site of the ancient copper mine was discovered during the opencast mining of the TouglĘ╣shan mine. So far twelve mineral deposits have been discovered, which were mined to different extents in ancient times. It is estimated that 80,000 to 100,000 tons of copper were mined in the past according to the calculation of the slag left behind. From the spring of 1974 to the summer of 1985, the archeological department carried out scientific excavation at some key points for the coordination of the mining production. Several hundred of mining shafts supported with different wooden structures were found, and are from the Western Zhou Dynasty (c.1100-771BC) to the Western Han Dynasty (206BC-8AD). A number of vertical furnaces for melting copper from the later period of the Western Zhou Dynasty to the early period of the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476BC) have been excavated in addition to the various kinds of production tools needed for manual mining. The former site has been listed as one the major historical sites under the State protection. It has also been decided by the local government that part of the representative mines left over are to be preserved and not to be explored any more. The Museum of the Former Site of Ancient TonglĘ╣shan Copper Mine stands in the reserved area right at a spot of the archeological excavation site where copper was mined during the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476BC).
The exhibition hall of the museum is 36 meters long, 30 meters wide and 14 meters high. In the 400 square meters of the archeological excavation site, square frameworks joined together with wooden tenons can be clearly seen and they were used in the Spring and Autumn Period to maintain the 70 vertical shafts, 66 flat lanes, one blind shaft and one inclined shaft. All these shafts are crisscrossed with drainage works winding through them, layer by layer, reappearing the scene of ore mining in the shafts around 2,500 years ago. The tools for mining are still placed at the places where they were used. The restored geological cross section around the dado of the exhibition hall and the site are one integrated mass, giving one an on-the-spot feeling. The unearthed relics, ore samples, photos, pictures and models displayed in the auxiliary exhibition rooms reflect the geological features, the process of excavation, the determination of ages, and the combination of mining with melting of the mining site.
In addition, 2,000 square meters of the original mining site, 20 meters underground and left from the Western Zhou Dynasty to the Spring and Autumn Period, is well preserved at a location to the southeast of the exhibition hall.