I visited the ruins of the City of Ye with my friends Zhang Qi, Wang Xin, Yang Zhanpo, Sun Jinchao, and Zhao Yaqi from Beijing. We travelled by train from Beijing on Saturday, March 17 to Anyang in northern Henan province. It was a pleasant 4 hour ride in a fast train. In the afternoon of the same day we caught a taxi to the ruins of the ancient city, which is about 30 km (20 miles) from Anyang in southern Hebei province. Thanks to Zhang Qi for researching and organising travel and accommodation.
The city was the economic and cultural center of Northern China from the 3rd to 6th centuries. It initially sprang to fame as being the capital of Cao Cao’s (155-220) Cao Wei kingdom, which was the northernmost of the Three Kingdoms (San Guo). Cao Cao was one of the most important figures in Chinese history, playing a leading role in the break-up of the Han Dynasty and founding of the Cao Wei dynasty. This is one of the reasons for the importance of Ye. After the end of the three kingdoms period Ye was capital to several brief dynasties in the Northern and Southern Dynasties period, including the Later Zhao (335-350).
At present, only a small area of the previous city is preserved / renovated and open to the public. This the Jin Feng Terrace area, including restorations of some of the Terrace structures, Cao Cao’s military tunnel, some artefacts, and an exhibit hall. There is a model of the old city in the exhibition hall. The area is under the management of the County of Lin Zhang.
The photo below shows a tunnel used by Cao Cao for military purposes.
The tile end below is stamped with the four characters 大趙萬歲, literally meaning Long Live Great Zhao, indicate that it was made at the time of the Later Zhao. The term ‘Later Zhao’ was not used at the time but later used by historians to describe the dynasty.
The photo below shows a model of the ancient City of Ye in the Exhibition Hall.
The photo below shows our party of six having lunch after arriving in Anyang on the train from Beijing.
After coming back from Ye we visited Tian Ning Temple in Anyang with its Five Dynasties pagoda, shown below.
The following day we visited the Yinxu World Heritage Site in Anyang. Interestingly, Ye is located very close to Yinxu, which is a World Heritage site located about 30 km away in Northern Henan province. Yinxu was the capital of the Shang Dynasty and the largest Bronze Age site in China. This is the site of the discovery most of the early Chinese writing in Oracle bone script.
A large amount of impressive bronze ware has been excavated at Yinxu. We saw Fu Hao’s tomb. Fu Hao, c. 1200 BCE, King Wu Ding’s consort and military leader, was the original Bronze Age female action star. Unfortunately, she died at a young age, and was buried with piles of bronze swords, spears, battle axes, and other weapons. The photo below shows her statue.
The photo below shows the Simuxin Ding (tripod) from Fu Hao’s tomb.
The kings and other royals were buried with large numbers of artifacts, animals, and people to help them through the next life. The photo below shows some of the horse-drawn carriages buried in one tomb.
After our visit to Yinxu we went to the Museum of Chinese Writing, also in Anyang. This first rate, national museum explains the development of Chinese writing. It has an abundant amount of Oracle bone text from nearby excavations. The photo below shows Oracle bone script on an ox bone.
In addition to oracle bone script there were many bronze artifacts with inscriptions. The photo below shows an inscription on the inside of a bronze bowl from the Western Zhou (1046 – 771 BCE).
There was also a special exhibition of writings of ethnic minority groups, including some ancient ones along the Silk Road. Sogdian Text, which is in the Iranian branch of Indo-European languages centered around present-day Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Buddhist texts written in Sogdian were found at Dunhuang. The photo below shows the Avalokitesvara Dharani in Sogdian Text.
After all that we had an easy and comfortable trip back to Beijing on the train.