There are many moving parts of China’s five millennia of history, and the ancient city of Liangzhu boasts some of the earliest recorded evidence of Chinese civilization.
Nestled in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, are the ruins of Liangzhu, built among the mountains. With a history that can be traced back to 3,300 B.C., the site covers 631 hectares.
The archaeological ruins of Yangzhou City are composed of the palace, the inner city and the outer city, a structure symbolizing the center of power. The core area is surrounded by functional zones, storage areas, workshops, water transportation systems and aristocratic cemeteries. Since excavation started in 1936, generations of Chinese archaeologists and scholars have unlocked more secrets about Liangzhu.
They’ve found exquisite jade ware, including artifacts with human-animal patterns which symbolize power. Archaeologists say these reflected the highest level of jade carving in ancient China.
Liangzhu also has the country’s earliest known large-scale water conservation network. Spanning 100 kilometers, it’s among the world’s oldest known and largest waterworks.
“The water conservation system was very comprehensive,” Ma Dongfeng, the executive director at Liangzhu Museum, said. “It was more like a water conservation project. It didn’t just mainly function for flood control, but also irrigation.”
In 2019, UNESCO declared Liangzhu a world heritage site.
“From our research, we can see the social division of labor leading to the appearances of classes and the creation of a monarchy and a government,” Wang Wei, the chief expert of the Origins of Chinese Civilization Project (2002-2018), said. “It’s all comprehensive evidence that Liangzhu contributed to our modern civilization. The discovery of the Liangzhu site helps establish China’s 5,000-year civilization.”
As a marvel of Neolithic Age ingenuity, Liangzhu is a testament to China’s early achievements as a civilization.