Major finds from the excavation of Foundation I of Changchongliang city site in King Anxi’s mansion in Ningxia
An excavation has been taken to the Foundation I in Changchongliang city remain of King Anxi’s mansion site by Ningxia Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology from August 2015 to November 2016. King Anxi’s Mansion was Manggela’s summer mansion located in Kaicheng town, Ningxia
(Manggela was known as King of Anxi
, the third son of Kublai Khan). The excavation area reached 1150 square meters. The layout of Foundation I was in the shape of “工”, with 125 meters south to north and 54 meters east to west. There were remains of front, main, and back palaces found in the foundation I.
View of the floor plan of the Foundation I in Changchongliang city remain
Through the excavation and clearing, rammed earth platform, the outer brick wall, the base foundation trench, the uplifting pavement, a large area of tread surface as well as part of the brick paving at the bottom of the foundation were identified. The excavation shows the building process, judging from the broken relationship of the excavated remains, the construction sequence was firstly the rammed earth platform, then the outer base foundation trench as well as the brick wall and finally the uplifting pavement and the brick ground as apron.
The rammed earth platform was located at the east rim of the south part of the Foundation I. The excavated area ranged 60 meters south to north and 4 meters in width. The platform was 0.20-1.2 meters above the ground, made of pure loess, the soil showed obvious distinction from the present yellow-gray one, which suggested the pure loess was nonlocal，it might be carried from other place. The rammed layer was smooth, without any rammed holes. Judging from the preserving condition and related remains of Zhongdu
(Central Capital of the Yuan dynasty), the excavated rammed earth rim should be the lower part of the platform. The whole width is about 8 meters, and about 1.2 meters beneath the remaining upper platform. It made a turn and extended to the south, which was estimated to be the short platform called yuetai, which is accessed by a short set of stairs and connected to the front hall. There was brick wall outside the earthen platform, base trench filled with pottery fragments and tile pieces at the bottom.
The excavation area of Changchongliang city remain
There were upper and lower tread surfaces at the bottom of the earthen platform, which might be left separately from building the city and constructing the earthen platform. Four brick paving floors were discovered. The one beneath the platform in the south was confirmed as front apron, and the rest were scattered randomly, with their nature unknown.
The unearthed objects were mainly bricks, tiles and rocks as well as other construction materials, including numerous gray bricks and tiles of Yuan
Dynasty, white-glazed ceramic semi-circular tiles, coarse green-glazed flat-roof tiles, red pottery glazed flat-roof tiles, dripping tiles (Dishui
, kind of special building components for the leading off of rainwater from the eaves), eaves tiles and ridge ornamental animal statues remaining. Two cyan bearing stone and 10 Chishou statues ( Chi means a hornless dragon in Chinese mythology, Chishou
is kind of Chi-head architectural adornment) as well as a few lime plaster carved with Tibetan inscription, metal decorations, animal bones and pottery fragments were found on both sides of the uplifting pavement. According to the statistics, altogether more than 67,000 architectural relics of different types were unearthed, weighing 33 tons. Among them were gray pottery bricks and tiles, red pottery glaze, white glazed ceramic tiles and stone.
Chishou in-situ at Site in T3722
were in the same shape of long column, with the round cap carved into dragon head and the back rectangle cylinder with tenon slot. It was 1.2 meters in length, with the head extended 0.7 meters. These kinds of relics were found in both Zhongdu
(Central Capital) and Dadu
(Grand Capital) of Yuan Dynasty. But the Chishou here had intruding snout, and the palate rolled up more obviously. The carving technique reached a higher standard and the material was harder, thus they were preserved in better condition.
White ceramic semi-circular tiles had yellow sand body. They were of the similar shape but slightly different in size. The texture was massive and firm. Part of them had symbols caved inside the inner body or numbers painted in ink along the outer rim. These kinds of ceramic tiles were also found in Western Xia mausoleums, but the same kind unearthed here showed that its specification and glazing technique had been inherited and advanced in Yuan Dynasty.
Dragon pattern eaves tile
Dragon pattern eaves tile
Dragon pattern dripping tiles (Dishui, kind of special building components for the leading off of rainwater from the eaves)
Besides, the gray bricks and tiles, red pottery glazed flat-roof tiles, dripping tiles (Dishui, kind of special building components for the leading off of rainwater from the eaves), and eaves tiles unearthed here were in small, medium and large size, fully displaying the construction type and scale of the site.
After two years’ excavation, a general understanding of the stratigraphic deposition of the site, the relic preservation, destruction as well as the cultural relic reserving condition was gained, offering archaeological data and support for the following excavation and protection as well as utilization of the great site. Based on the archaeological discovery from last two years, it can be speculated the Changchongliang remain to be the palace area of the King Anxi’s mansion, and the Foundation I to be the main foundation of the palace area. (Translator: Yuan Yuan)