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Chang'an (China)

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Large Wild Goose Pagoda at Chang 'An

Large Wild Goose Pagoda at Chang 'An

Kevin Poh
Definition:

Chang'an is the name of one of the most important ancient capital cities of China. Known as the eastern terminal of the Silk Road, Chang'an is located in Shaanxi Province near Xi'An. Chang'an served as capital to the Han, Sui, and Tang dynasty leaders. The city was first constructed beginning about 200 BC at the behest of Emperor Gao Zu; it was destroyed in AD 904.

A wall encloses an area of approximately 84 square kilometers. Chang'an's most striking building is perhaps the Temple of Heaven, a pounded earth platform of four concentric rings, built during the Tang Dynasty. In 1970, a hoard of 1000 silver and gold objects, as well as jade and other precious stones called the Hejiacun Hoard was discovered at Chang'an.

Traditionally, Chang 'An was the eastern terminus of the of the famous Silk Road, where the leaders of the Han dynasty (206 BC-220 AD) sent out explorations out to southeastern Asia, central Asia and eventually Rome.

Excavations have been conducted at Chang'an by the Institute of Archaeology, CASS, since the late 1950s.

Sources

Xiaoneng Yang (ed.) 2001. Chinese Archaeology in the Twentieth Century: New Perspectives on China's Past. Yale University Press, New Haven.

This glossary entry is part of the Dictionary of Archaeology.

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