New Han wooden strips discovered in Inner Mongolia
( 2003-12-08 09:33) (People's Daily)
New historical records from Xin (8-23 A.D.), a short-lived regime at the end of the Western Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-24), were discovered on wooden strips from Han at Juyan, in Ejin Banner of North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
The discovery was made after nearly one year's research by archaeologists with the state and local archaeological institutions on more than 500 wooden strips excavated from 1999 to2002.
"From these wooden strips, we found abundant historical recordson Xin, the historical materials of which had been scarce," said Xie Guihua, a research fellow with the institute of history of theChinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Xin was founded by Wang Mang, a powerful minister at the end ofthe Western Han Dynasty who usurped the throne. As the new regime lasted for only 16 years, it is usually not accounted for in China's historical dynasties but still considered to be an important period in China's history.
Twelve imperial edicts were discovered among those wooden strips.
According to Xie, to justify his regime, the usurper had tampered with the Confucian classics, the Bible of ancient Chineseemperors.
"This was verified by a broken wooden strip, on which was inscribed the imperial edict for Wang Mang's enthronement," said the famous expert in wooden strips research.
According to historical records, relations between Xin and the peripheral minorities had been strained. But elaborate records hadbeen lacking until the discovery of those wooden strips.
A large number of wooden strips recording laws on punishment and encouragement were also found. Officials and soldiers on frontier defense who were accused of dereliction of their duties would be published according to their military ranks.
"From those records, we can easily draw the conclusion that laws at the end of the Western Han Dynasty were rather complete," said Xie.
Among those wooden strips, archaeologists found many account books of the frontier defense institutions.
"The account books can be classified as daily report, monthly report, quarterly report and annual report," Xie said. "It is of great significance to the research on the financial system of the frontier defense organ of the Han Dynasty."
The Ejin River valley is the current location of the Juyan region of the Han Dynasty. Since the first excavation of a large amount of wooden strips in 1930, more than 30,000 wooden strips have been unearthed in three batches in this region.
According to Xie, all those wooden strips were unearthed in theregion where a county institution of the Han Dynasty had been located.
"Four other provincial institutions were also set up at Juyan by the Han Dynasty which we still haven't discovered. Therefore, the number of wooden strips of Han at Juyan which are still buriedunderground must be much larger than that of the unearthed," Xie noted.
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