Archaeological findings in Zoucheng shed light on ancient governance systems

(| Updated : 2023-10-19

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The archaeological team of Shandong University recently has made significant discoveries at the Zhuguo Ancient City Ruins in Zoucheng, a county-level city of Shandong province, local media reported.

Archaeologists have found that the ruins once served as the capital of the Zhuguo State during the Eastern Zhou Dynasty (770-256 BC) and was later the county seat of Zou County during the Qin (221-206 BC) and Han (206 BC-AD 220) dynasties. The archaeological site spans approximately 6 square kilometers.

In 2015, the Shandong University archaeology team started conducting excavations that have uncovered valuable insights into the city's history. Notably, from June 2022 to Sept 2023, the team unearthed a well-preserved large rammed earth structure built in the mid-late Warring States (475-221 BC) period that was also used during the Qin, Han, and Xin dynasties. The Xin Dynasty refers to a short-lived period under the reign of Wang Mang between AD 9 and 23, also called the Xinmang period.

Over 800 clay seals dating back to the Qin, Western Han (206 BC-AD 24), and Xin dynasties were unearthed from the structure, indicating that the architectural site is the only county office (yamen) found in China in in the Qin, Western Han (206 BC-AD 24), and Xin dynasties, which provides the only example for the study of the regulation of county offices during that period.

Professor Lu Guoquan from the School of History and Culture at Shandong University said that the recent archaeological findings at the ruins shed light on the evolving urban landscape during the transition from the Eastern Zhou period, when Zhuguo State functioned as a capital, to the Qin and Han dynasties, when it was transformed into a county administrative center.


A well-preserved rammed earth structure is unearthed at Zhuguo Ancient City Ruins in Zoucheng, Shandong province. [Photo/Shandong University]


Seals dating back to the Qin, Western Han, and Xin dynasties. [Photo/Shandong University]