Recent archaeological excavations at a site in Puyang, located in Central China’s Henan Province, have shed light on the mystery surrounding an ancient Chinese city known as “Gan,” which thrived from the Warring States Period to the Han Dynasty. The site initially thought to be an ordinary archaeological site, has turned out to be a significant discovery.
The archaeological site, identified as Donggan City, has been meticulously studied by experts from the Henan Provincial Institute of Cultural Heritage and Archaeology. This exploration has uncovered the remains of an ancient city.
The city, divided into two parts by a grand wall, boasts over 40 ancient tombs characterized by their long and narrow design. Among the plethora of artifacts unearthed from these tombs are bronze mirrors, pottery wares, and intriguingly, chess pieces.
One of the most remarkable finds at the site is a collection of bone slips, totaling 10 pieces, inscribed with the Ten Heavenly Stems and Twelve Earthly Branches, ancient Chinese systems used for timekeeping and divination.
Dr. Qu Fulin, an archaeologist involved in the excavation, told the Global Times that these bone slips were likely utilized for fortune-telling activities and ancient sacrificial ceremonies, rather than as a calendar, as some scholars had previously speculated.
This interpretation is supported by Xiong Gang, an expert on Chinese folk culture, who highlights the cultural significance of these bone slips, often made from the bones of animals like oxen, and their association with Western Han Dynasty traditions.
Li Yipi, the lead archaeologist on the project, emphasizes the importance of the Gan City site in understanding the urban planning and construction systems of the Han Dynasty. The history of Gan City itself is a testament to the region’s rich heritage. From its origins as a Marquisate during the Xia Dynasty to its prominence as a vassal state in the Shang and Western Zhou Dynasties, Gan City has played a significant role in shaping the cultural identity of the Puyang area. Villages named “Gan City” still exist nearby, serving as a tangible link to the region’s ancient past.
Alongside other important sites like Xishuipo, Gaicheng, and Qicheng, Donggan City contributes to our understanding of the deep historical and cultural heritage of the region. As Li Yipi remarks, the excavation, research, and protection of these sites carry immense value and significance, serving as vital components of the city’s historical and cultural identity.