The Zhouyuan Site is located in the north
Guanzhong Plain in Shaanxi Province and stretches eastward to Wugong and
westward to Baoji, across most part of Fufeng and Qishan counties.
Leaning on Qishan Mountain in the north, and
close to the Weishui River in the south, the area is like a high mount that is
900 meters above sea level. According to historical record, this area was the
origin of the Zhou people and the capital site of the Zhou State before it
conquered the Shang Dynasty (17th-- 11th century BC). From
the late 12th century BC to the early 11th century BC, the
leader of Zhou led the clansmen here and began to build the city into their
capital. In the later period of 11th century BC, King Wen of the Zhou
Dynasty moved the capital to Fengdu, while Zhouyuan City remained an important
political center. In the late Western Zhou Dynasty (11th
century -- 771 BC), the city was captured by the West Rong tribe and
abandoned since then.
Since 1976, large-scale excavations have
been carried out at the site by the Shaanxi provincial cultural relic
administrative committee, the Archaeology Department of the Peking University,
and the Archaeology Department of the Northwest University. Archaeologists have
made great achievements that shocked the historiography circle. The palace site,
or probably the temple site, is distributed in Fengchu of Qishan County and
Zhaochen of Fufeng County.
The construction foundation in Fengchu is
situated on a tampered-earth base 32.5 meters wide from east to west, 43.5
meters long from south to north, and 1.3 meters high. With the gateway, the
front hall and the back hall built on the axis line, the building had 8
wing-rooms on each side that were connected by corridors and formed a close
compound. The front hall was the main construction that was 17.2 metes long from
east to west and 6.1 meters wide from south to north. Judged from the pole holes
dug on the base, the front hall was 6 bays long and 3 bays wide. Pottery water
pipes built around the foundation provided a perfect drainage system.
Fifteen construction foundations, big or
small, were found in Zhaochen. These were probably residences of nobles. The
largest one was 24 metes long from east to west and 15 meters wide from south to
north, with various tiles covering the roof. These tiles, decorated with various
patterns, were earliest ones that have been found in China.
A number of workshop sites were found in the
site, including bone ware-making workshop in the south Yuntang Village, pottery
workshop in the east Qijia Village, and copper- casting workshop in the east Qi
Town. Among these large-scale workshops, the bone-making workshop in Yuntang
Village was the largest one. Rich relics made of stone, bone, half-processed
products and various tools unearthed in the site indicated the systematic
production in a large scale.
In the caves at the Fengchu construction
site, 170,000 pieces of animal bone and tortoise shell used to practise
divination were unearthed in 1977, mainly tortoise shells. Over 200 tortoise
shells had oracle inscription, with the most one had 30 words. Qijia Village of
Fufeng County also saw the discovering of 5 tortoise shells with inscription in
1979. The inscription described the relation between Zhou people and the Shang
Dynasty with neighboring states. The inscription of the Zhou Dynasty was written
in a small and fine style and carved on tortoise shells with skilled technique.
This provided valuable data for the study of the Zhou history.
The greatest discovery in the Zhouyuan Site
was the excavation of a large number of bronze wares stored in cellars. Wares
with such a long history and in such a huge amount were seldom found elsewhere.
Important discoveries in the site were made in the Western Han (206BC-8AD), Tang
(618-907), and Song (960-1279) Dynasties. During the reign of Emperor Daoguang
of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), a number of famous copper wares were unearthed
here, such as the a broad-mouthed tripod caldron, Dafeng gui (gui is a
round-mouthed food vessel with two or four loop handles), and Maogong tripod
caldron. During the last 80 years of the 20th century, over 30
cellars were unearthed, with over 1,000 copper wares. In a cellar unearthed in
Dongjia Village in 1975, 37 copper wares were excavated. The inscription carved
on the unearthed tripod caldrons and hes (he is a kind of ancient utensil)
described expeditions, renting of lands and lawsuits of the mid Western Zhou
period, indicating the emergence of feudal system in the Western Zhou society.
In a cellar in Baicun Village, 103 copper
wares were unearthed in 1974. This is the largest number of copper wares
unearthed in a cellar since the foundation of new China. This is also a group of
bronze wares of the greatest research value, among which 74 have inscriptions,
with the least one has 1 character and the most one 284 characters, providing
valuable data for the study of Weishi Family of the Zhou Dynasty.
The Zhouyuan Site is an underground treasure
house with rich cultural relics. Along with the development of excavation work,
more and more valuable cultural relics will be unearthed at the site.