Bamboo slips shed light on rise of Great Wall
2005/03/26

CHANGSHA, March 25 (Xinhuanet) -- Archeologists in central-south Hunan province have sorted out altogether 36,000 bamboo slips, about 35,000 of which bear official authentic records from 2,200 years ago at a coincidence with the rise of China's imposing Great Wall, which was first built on and off from the third century B.C..

    These priceless ancient records, ingrained in official scripts,provide a detailed, encyclopedic account of the imperial Qin Dynasty (221-206 B.C.), including politics, military affairs, ethnicity, economics, law, culture, geography and administration, said Zhang Chunlong, a noted researcher with Hunan Provincial Institute of Archeology, in an exclusive interview with Xinhua Friday.

    These historic records, believed to have been kept by the Qin court, will shed light on their researches on the politics, culture and economics of Qin Dynasty, Zhang acknowledged, it was aperiod to witness China's unification, building of the Great Wall as a major defense fortress, cultural and economic boom but also the period of tyranny under the rein of founding emperor Ying Zheng, which historians believe caused the dynasty to fall at an early end.

    Most historians referred Ying Zheng as one of the most brutal tyrants in China's feudal society as he threw millions of land laborers into slavery and forced them to build the 10,000-plus Li (some 5,000 kms) defense wall and his mammoth imperial palace and mausoleum.

    A brief study of the records on bamboo slips suggests subjects of the Qin Dynasty then already had access to mail service, probably even express delivery, while they were plunged into penal servitude for unabling to pay their land rents and debts.

    Numerous bamboo slips are believed to carry words like "usury","payment" and "fees for penalty", which suggest Qin Dynasty hinged on rigid political and cruel legal systems, according to Prof. Wu Rongzeng, a noted historian.

    About 1,000 of the ancient bamboo slips were without any recording contents, said the archeologists. "But these void slips are equally worth in-depth researches so as to determine if they had not been written on in the first place, or their texts had been eroded by insects and been run down century after century," Prof. Yuan on Friday.

    Yuan and his peers have finished cleaning all the 36,000 bamboo slips and they are still working to dehydrate and decoloring for the sake of restoring their original looks and improving on how tomake the relics intact. "The preservation process is slated to complete by the end of this year," added Yuan.

    These bamboo slips, unearthed in June 2002 from an abandoned ancient well in Liye village, Longshan county in western Hunan. "are providing an essential specimen for our research under the rein of the imperial Qin empire, particularly on the rule of local lords," said Gao Chongwen, an archeologists from elite Beijing University in Beijing.

    Experts say the bamboo slips could rank among China's most crucial archeological findings about the Qin Dynasty after the discovery of the Qin Mausoleum.

    As the Qin Dynasty lasted for only 14 years, however, it left behind scarce records. And before the bamboo slips came around, most major events of Qing dynasty could only find traces in historical writings of the ensuing Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD). Enditem

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