Birds-eye view of the Zhongdu Imperial City of Ming Dynasty
Anhui province is applying for the national archaeological park status for two ancient remains. The result is expected to be unveiled in a couple of months.
Located in Hanshan county, the 1.6 million- square-meter Lingjiatan site dates back to the Neolithic Age about 5,800-5,300 years ago. It is the largest and the best-preserved Neolithic settlement ever discovered around the Chaohu Lake, one of China's five largest freshwater lakes. In 2001, the site was recognized as a key unit of cultural relics under state-level protection.
The other candidate is the Zhongdu Imperial City of Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), built by Zhu Yuanzhang (1328-1398), the founder of the empire, in Fengyang county. It has been under the protection of the central government since 1982.
The province abounds with historical sites. Six of them were inscribed on a list of 150 major ruins involved in the State Administration of Cultural Heritage's individual 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015). Among them were Lingjiatan and Zhongdu.
However, when the administration in 2010 selected 35 historic sites nationwide as state-level archaeological parks, none of the province's 15 candidates managed to make the cut. Scant investment was blamed for the failure, said an official of the Anhui Provincial Administration of Cultural Heritage.
Local authorities have since ramped up efforts to protect and utilize historical sites. Last year, the government of Fengyang earmarked roughly 560 million yuan ($91.8 million) to remove households from the Zhongdu Imperial City. The provincial administration of cultural heritage, in addition, agreed to give priority to the site in 2014's work, saying renovations would be carried out to its west walls next year.
Meanwhile, the government of Hanshan commissioned an urban planning institute under the Tsinghua University, one of the country's most prestigious universities, to map out a plan for Lingjiatan. Under the plan, a fund of 150 million yuan has been poured into the Lingjiatan Cultural Village project. Furthermore, the government will spend more than 50 million yuan building a five-kilometer-long highway and strive for a high-speed railway station, which will make the site more accessible to the outside world.
(By Zheng Weiling)