Excavation of Shangjing city site from Jin dynasty revealed the layout of the east building of imperial city in Heilongjiang Province
Shangjing city site is located in southern suburb of A’cheng District of Harbin City, Heilongjiang Province. Shangjing City was the first capital city built by Jin Dynasty, and also was an early capital city of Jin Dynasty. Since 2016, prospection of partial building foundations in middle-east area of imperial city of Shangjing has been conducted by Heilongjiang Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology. According to results of prospection, there is quite large-sized architectural ruin in east part of imperial city. Related remains are distributed intensively in the east of No.4 Palace site of palace area. In the northwest part, there are a group of relatively independent small building closely connecting to west of building, which are numbered as TJ1. From May to October in 2017, large-scaled excavation was carried out in east area of TJ1 by Heiongjiang Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, covering more than 2500 square meters.
Based on results of clearance and prospection, there is a crossed rammed-earth platform foundation as main architecture in east and south areas of TJ1. The entire platform consists of 3 separate rammed-earth platforms joining together. West part of the platform, running east-west, is numbered as TJ2. South-north platform is numbered as TJ3. East part of the platform, running east-west, is numbered as TJ4. 3 platforms join together and form a crossed platform. Center part is the highest place and then sloped gently downward to the periphery. Each platform base is rammed earth construction. Pedestals on the platform base are placed in order. There are some square bricks being left on the ground. In the north part of south-north running platform, there are several warm facilities (hearth remains). Certain degree of brick-packed wall remained in the edge of the platform. Comprehensively speaking, this should be a gallery base, an important subsidiary architecture in imperial city. This platform is a long veranda going through the east part of the imperial city.
Aerial view of the excavation area in 2017
West part of TJ2 connects to south end of TJ1. TJ2 is rectangular in plane and runs from east to west. Uncovered part is about 24m long from east to west and 17.8~11.8m wide from south to north. East part of TJ2 connects to TJ3. 13 pedestals were found being arranged on it. Pedestals were placed in a single line in the west and in two lines in the east.
TJ3 runs from south to north and is rectangular in plane. The excavated area is 59.8m long from south to north. 54 pedestals and 3 hearths have been found on TJ3. The pedestals are arranged in two lines south-north symmetrically. 14 south-north rooms can be observed. On east and west sides of TJ3, there is a brick-paved wall and an aproll respectively. Besides, there are base stones on the pedestals. In some parts, there are 2 square brick-built features. West part of TJ3 overlapped by rammed earth in the east of TJ2, which indicates that TJ3 should be built slightly earlier than TJ2.
Remains of well and drainage ditch
TJ4 is rectangular in plane and runs from west to east on the same line of TJ2. The excavated part is about 23.2m long from east to west and 10.75m wide from south to north. On south and north sides of this part of platform base, there are wall bricks and aprolls. On the platform base, there are pedestals being placed in 3 lines from east to west. In the west, 6 lines of pedestals running from south to north are uncovered. Rammed earth base of TJ4 overlapped the aproll of TJ3, which means, TJ4 is constructed slightly later than TJ3.
Crossed veranda base consisting of TJ2, TJ4 and TJ3 is an important subsidiary architecture in the east of imperial city. It divides east part of city into several connected architectural zones.
In northeast of the veranda, there are TJ5 and TJ6. TJ5 is square in plane with rammed earth structure, which is predicted to be a platform building. TJ6 is in the east of TJ5. It’s rammed earth structure. Brick-paved wall is left around the platform. Outside the wall, there is an aproll which is paved with square bricks. Therefore, it’s predicted that TJ6 might be foundation of a decorated archway. In the southeast part of the veranda, there are TJ7 and TJ8 being linked by brick-packed wall. Without complete excavation, only a small part is unearthed. Considering the network structure of pedestals, this should belong to a part of architectural base of a large palace.
Doorway remains in the west of veranda at No.3 platform
Among east part of long veranda and No.7 and No.8 Platforms, there are subsidiary facilities, such as drainage ditch and well and so on. Drainage ditch (SG1) is located in south side of the east part of the veranda. Some of upper part is sealed by an east-west arched top paved with bricks. It is paralleling with the veranda and running to the east. Thus, it’s an open canal used as a drainage facility. The well (SJ1) has relatively intensive deposits within it, containing remains such as broken bricks and tiles, semi-circular tiles, pottery animal heads, porcelain shards, iron nails, animal bones and so on. On the surface of west wall of the well, there are pedestal bases. Several base stones scatter around the mouth of well, according to which, it’s predicted that there might originally be a “pavilion” in the periphery of the mouth of well. On the east side of the well, there is a brick-packed wall separating the well with other architectures.
Unearthed architectural components
From this season’s excavation, architectural components take the largest percentages of unearthed artifacts, including gray tiles, black bricks and so on. Gray tiles contain pan-tiles and semi-circular tiles, drips and eave tiles. Patterns on eave tiles mainly have dragon pattern, beast face patterns and flower patterns. Besides, there are broken pieces, such as pottery animal heads, chi-dragon head, animal head (an ornament on roof edge) and human figurines and etc.
In this season excavation, TJ3, TJ2 and TJ4 are excavated. They belong to foundations of two crossed verandas which go through several buildings in north part of east area of imperial city. Fire facility built later is found on the north-south oriented veranda, a brick-structured hearth, which indicates that in the later period of Jin Dynasty, the veranda was converted and rebuilt. The structure of the hearth is exactly the same with that of hearth revealed in other areas within the imperial city. In TJ1, there are a group of relatively independent building remains in the northwest area of the veranda.
According to cross-section of key parts, it’s known that TJ3, TJ2 and TJ4 are veranda remains overlapped by each other. And TJ3 is earlier than TJ2 and TJ4. East-west veranda and south-north veranda belong to two periods. Facilities such as drainage ditch and well in southeast part of two verandas provide new materials for a better understanding of drainage system within capital city of Jin Dynasty. This season’s excavation will further enhance related understandings of layout and dynamic history of imperial city of Shangjing City in Jin Dynasty. Thus, it is of important academic values. (Translator: Ma Huanhuan)