Skip to comments.Underground Passages Reveal Power Struggle In Ancient Han Capital
Posted on 11/01/2006 3:21:44 PM PST by blam
Underground passages reveal power struggle in ancient Han capital
Chinese archaeologists said underground passages in the ruins of an ancient Chinese capital near Xi'an might have been dug during complex power struggles in the Han Dynasty 2,200 years ago.
"The underground passages are the first ever discovered in the ruins of an ancient Chinese capital," said Liu Qingzhu, a researcher with the Chinese Institute of Archaeology in the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).
"The tunnels were mostly discovered under the palaces where the royal women lived, including the emperor's mother, the empress and the emperor's concubines," Liu said.
Historical records show the emperors in the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC - 25 AD) relied partly on the families of the imperial females to consolidate their rule.
"The emperors had many concubines, some of whom were chosen for political reasons to consolidate royal power through their families," Liu said. "The political groups might have used the tunnels to meet secretly in various palaces in the capital."
"The underground passages are very intricate. Some had gatekeepers to control who went in and who went out," Liu said.
The ruins of nearly 20 underground passages have been discovered and some stretch for about 20 meters, according to Zhang Jianfeng, an archaeologist with the Chinese Institute of Archeology in the CASS.
Many other discoveries were made under the palaces.
"Some of the basements may have been used for residence, storage or preserving the upper floors from humidity or cold, but we need more evidence," Zhang said.
The Western Han Dynasty ruled for about 200 years from its capital in Xi'an.
The imperial capital covered an area of about 36 square kilometers. The main palace, Weiyang Palace, covered about five square kilometers. It was the largest palace in ancient China, much larger than the famous Forbidden City.
The Western Han Dynasty was one of the most prosperous periods in ancient Chinese history. Its capital Chang'an, today's Xi'an, in northwestern Shaanxi Province, once competed with Rome as the most important metropolis in the known world.
All of the emperor's women had tunnels under them. A power struggle isn't the first thing that came to my mind.
Please FREEPMAIL me if you want on or off the
"Gods, Graves, Glyphs" PING list or GGG weekly digest
-- Archaeology/Anthropology/Ancient Cultures/Artifacts/Antiquities, etc.
Gods, Graves, Glyphs (alpha order)
Or they might have been used to smuggle secret lovers in and out of the women's compound.
The movie below is about the tomb of the Emperor who was found with all those life sized terracotta soldiers.
It is amazingly well done and quite the historical epic albeit a convoluted plot, as reality often is.
Same time frame referenced in this article, I believe.
The Emperor and the Assassin
Late in the Third Century B.C., when China was comprised of seven rival kingdoms, Ying Zheng (Li Xuejian) was the leader of Qin. Ying Zheng had a dream in which he joined together the seven kingdoms into a single utopian state, and taking this as a mandate from God, he invaded the nearby state of Han as the first step toward this goal. However, not everyone in the neighboring states was happy with Ying Zheng's crusade, which seemed to indicate a lengthy war with many casualties. Lady Zhao (Gong Li), Ying's lover, devised a scheme to help Ying Zheng take over the nearby and uncooperative state of Yan; she fabricated a fake assassination plot against him, and framed the leader of Yan, once Ying Zheng's childhood friend, as the man behind the murderous plot. However, Lady Zhao did not choose the would-be assassin wisely; while Jing Ke (Zhang Fengyi) loved her and was willing to do her bidding, Jing Ke's previous assassination assignment caused the unintended death of an innocent blind girl, which left him full of regret and a bit unstable. When Jing Ke learned a closely guarded secret about Ying Zheng's past, he became blindly determined to kill the would-be emperor, whatever the cost. Produced on a lavish budget by Chinese standards ($15 million),
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.