Chinese archaeologists have discovered the remains of the country's oldest imperial palace, which dates back 3,700 years and is linked to the ancient Xia Dynasty, which many researchers long considered to be merely the stuff of legend.
The remains of the palace are at the Erlitou Bronze Age site in the country's north-central Henan province, according to the People's Daily. Archaeologists discovered the rammed-earth foundation, with at least three courtyards. The palace covers a total area of more than 2,100 square meters.
Head of the archaeological team at the site and director of the Department of the Xia-Shang-Zhou Archaeology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xu Hong, said:
"The Erlitou palace complex is an amazing discovery, and is the earliest imperial palace in China."
The report says this is the best-preserved palace on the site and may be a prototype of the next dynasty, the Shang. The earliest Chinese dynasties are usually considered legendary, but archaeological finds in recent decades show the legends had a basis in fact.
The Cultural China website says the Erlitou site comprises some four million square metres and contains the oldest bronze items found in China. The Xia Dynasty is dated from 2,100 B.C. to 1,600 B.C., according to Wikipedia. It was replaced by the Shang Dynasty, which was overthrown by the Zhou. It was during the Zhou that China's oldest records were written, and was also the time of Kung Fu Tze (Confucius).
Chinese scholars have been working since 1996 on a project aimed at establishing an accurate chronology for these early, legendary dynasties.
Archaeological team leader Xu added:
"Built about 3,700 years ago, the neatly designed palace complex, along with surrounding buildings, forms the center of the ancient capital. Although it is only one-seventh the size of the Imperial Palaces of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the Erlitou palace complex is the prototype of all later imperial palaces in China.”
It seems the ”legendary” records of ancient China contain quite a bit of fact, after all.