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Discovery helps solve ancient water mystery

By Wang Ru | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2023-12-11 08:34
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Some pottery items unearthed from a tomb in the Wangjiabang cemetery to the north of the city ruins at the Chenghe site. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Archaeologists unravel procedure from 5,000 years ago, Wang Ru reports.

Archaeological discoveries at the Chenghe site in Jingmen, Hubei province, have revealed an elaborate water-control system from about 5,000 years ago, the National Cultural Heritage Administration said in Beijing on Nov 29.

Chenghe is a site of Qujialing (3300 BC-2600 BC) and Shijiahe (2500 BC-2000 BC) cultures in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River. It is the middle-sized site of a city that covered an area of 700,000 square meters, says Peng Xiaojun, an associate researcher at the Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Previous excavations have identified city walls, large-scale courtyard-like architecture, areas for sacrificial ceremonies, pottery production and residences, as well as tombs to the north of the city. They have also found an artificial water system including three water gates to control the flow of water.

[Photo provided to China Daily]

The discovery was listed as one of the top 10 archaeological discoveries of 2018, as announced by the National Cultural Heritage Administration.

However, some questions still confuse archaeologists. For example, the city was built by the Chenghe River and its tributaries, which flowed outside the city. But since there was a hillock between the city site and the tributaries, how did people in ancient times get water from outside the city to pass through the hillock and enter?

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