Skip to comments.Inner Mongolia - Aerial photography sheds light on Kubla Khan's capital (Xanadu)
Posted on 10/08/2005 10:34:49 PM PDT by HAL9000
Aerial photography sheds light on Kublai Khan's capital
BEIJING, Oct. 8 (Xinhuanet) -- Aerial photography has helped shed new light on the capital of Kublai Khan's empire, also known as Xuanadu in Marco Polo's Travel Notes.
The description of the metropolis Shangdu (Xuanadu) by Marco Polo some 700 years ago has somewhat been confirmed by aerial photography, Yang Lin, director of the center of remote sensing and aerial photography of China's National Museum, told Xinhua on Saturday.
"We can see the spectacular city with its scale and the density of buildings," Yang said.
The ruins have been overgrown with grass for more than 600 years. Archaeologists have taken a large number of photos of the site in Zhenglan Banner in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region from planes flying at low altitudes in recent years.
By examining photos, archaeologists can tell the shape of the ancient site and where the relics are located at the site, according to Yang.
The capital Shangdu was built in 1256 under the command of Kublai Khan who was enthroned there four years later. It became a summer resort after the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) moved its capital to present-day Beijing and was destroyed during a peasant war at the end of the dynasty.
According to Marco Polo's Travel Notes, there were palaces made of marble in the city, with the rooms gilded and painted, and the palaces were so exquisite that people derived both visual and mental satisfaction.
"Since the capital has been dilapidated for many years, we were not clear about its layout . And because it is located in vast grassland, the inconvenient traffic condition makes it difficult to conduct archaeological research in traditional ways," said Yang.
"Through aerial photography, we can observe the remains which are difficult to be identified from ground," Yang said.
The photos show that the city is square with three concentric city walls. The outer wall was surrounded by a moat of 20 meters wide.
Inside the city, archaeologists said that they can tell remains of barns, barracks and horse stables. And relics of a dam for flood prevention have also been discovered at about two kilometers north and west of the city.
According to Marco Polo's Travel Notes, a wide road connects Shangdu and Dadu (today's Beijing) at that time, and along the road shops and merchants could be found everywhere.
This description has been proven to be true when aerial photos show remains of a wide road running from west to east at south of the city and leading to the depths of the grassland, said Yang.
"Aerial photography enables us to get new understanding of Shangdu. Combining the architecture of nomads and imperial buildings of the Han nationality, Shangdu occupies a significant status in China's history of capital construction," Yang added.
Was Olivia Newton John found to be there?
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Strange that an article about a photograph would be written and then not show the photo. Hmmm.
Thanks for the ping. I work for a company that makes aerial sensors and software for aerial photography and photogrammetry. I wish they'd mentioned what kind of camera they used, or how they analyzed the data. This stuff is pretty cool.
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail:
And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean:
And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!
The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!
A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw:
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight 'twould win me
That with music loud and long
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed
And drunk the milk of Paradise.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
But how does it end?
Oh, that's right. Damned b*****d from Porlock.
Bunch of photos:
The City of Light:
The Hidden Journal of the Man
Who Entered China
Four Years Before Marco Polo
by Jacob D'Ancona
tr by David Selbourne
Legends of the Chinese Jews of Kaifeng
by Xin Xu
tr by Beverly Friend
illus by Ting Cheng
Words by Neil Peart, Music by Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson
"To seek the sacred river Alph To walk the caves of ice To break my fast on honey dew And drink the milk of Paradise...."
I had heard the whispered tales
The deepest mystery
From an ancient book. I took a clue
I scaled the frozen mountain tops
Of eastern lands unknown
Time and Man alone
Searching for the lost ---- Xanadu
Xanadu ---- To stand within The Pleasure Dome Decreed by Kubla Khan To taste anew the fruits of life The last immortal man To find the sacred river Alph To walk the caves of ice Oh, I will dine on honey dew And drink the milk of Paradise
A thousand years have come and gone
But time has passed me by
Stars stopped in the sky
Frozen in an everlasting view
Waiting for the world to end
Weary of the night
Praying for the light
Prison of the lost ---- Xanadu
Xanadu ---- Held within The Pleasure Dome Decreed by Kubla Khan To taste my bitter triumph As a mad immortal man Nevermore shall I return Escape these caves of ice For I have dined on honey dew And drunk the milk of Paradise