A painting of Kublai Khan, as he would have appeared in the 1260s. This is actually a posthumous that was made shortly after his death in February 1294, by a Nepalese artist and astronomer

An Ancient Rice Field and a Lost Palace: Archaeologists Get a Double Dose of Luck in China

(Read the article on one page)

Archaeologists working in China have been pretty lucky recently. One of the discoveries they have made may be the oldest wet rice field in the world. Another is the possible location of the imperial palace of the Yuan dynasty -  a mystery which has stumped archaeologists for years.

The rice field was found by the Neolithic ruins of Hanjing in Sihong county of East China's Jiangsu province in November 2015. China Daily said that when a group of scholars met in late April they declared the find as the oldest of its kind in the world. Lin Liugen, head of the archaeology institute, said that Chinese people began rice cultivation about 10,000 years ago and carbonized rice from those early days has been found, but paddy remnants are “quite rare.”

The field covers less than 100 square meters (1076.39 sq. ft.) and was divided into parts with different shapes, each of which covering less than 10 square meters (107.64 sq. ft.) The researchers also found “carbonized rice that was confirmed to have grown more than 8,000 years ago based on carbon dating, as well as evidence that the soil was repeatedly planted with rice.” [Via China Daily]

Lin told China daily that the findings are significant for research into the origins of rice farming in China.

A modern rice field in China

A modern rice field in China. ( Public Domain )

The second interesting discovery comes in the form of 600-year-old relics from the time of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). The artifacts were found buried in the heart of the Forbidden City. Heritage Daily reports that the finds were made during maintenance work at the historic site. Apparently the broken tiles and pieces of porcelain were unearthed last year but notice only comes now that the researchers have had time to appraise and date the artifacts.

Li Ji, head of the Archaeology Department at the museum’s affiliated academic research institute, said “These three layers [Qing, Ming, and Yuan] of relics indicate how layouts for buildings changed through time.”

But he also told the press that the large amount of urban construction in the Ming Dynasty explains much of why no Yuan relics were found before. He explained, “Our fieldwork shows that almost all previous construction foundations were cleared out when the Forbidden City was built, to provide impeccable detail for the new palaces.”

Forbidden City (Beijing, China)

Forbidden City (Beijing, China) (Michael McDonough/ CC BY NC ND 2.0 )

The head of the Archaeology Department stressed that no “large-scale archaeological work” will be completed on the relics to increase the chances of survival for other ancient architectural elements. “It’s like playing puzzles,” he said. “We begin small-area excavations in different spots, and can obtain a panoramic view through comparative studies.”

According to The Straits Times , this discovery “is believed to have solved one of the great mysteries of antiquity in Beijing - the site of the imperial palace of the Yuan Dynasty established by Kublai Khan in the 13th century.”

Kublai Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan, was the first emperor of the Yuan Dynasty. He differed from many of the previous rulers “by ruling through an administrative apparatus that respected and embraced the local customs of conquered peoples, rather than by might alone.” His ability to suppress the Song Dynasty of southern China also made him “the first Mongol to rule over the entire country and led to a long period of prosperity for the empire.” [Via Biography.com]

A painting of Kublai Khan, as he would have appeared in the 1260s. This is actually a posthumous that was made shortly after his death in February 1294, by a Nepalese artist and astronomer.

A painting of Kublai Khan, as he would have appeared in the 1260s. This is actually a posthumous that was made shortly after his death in February 1294, by a Nepalese artist and astronomer. ( Public Domain )

Featured Image: The northeast corner of the Forbidden City, Beijing. ( CC BY SA 3.0 ) Example of Rice Paddy Terraces in Yangshuo, China. ( McKay Savage/CC BY 2.0 )

By Alicia McDermott

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Top New Stories

Teotihuacan, Mexico.
Name one civilization located in the Americas that pre-dates the arrival of Europeans. You probably replied with the Aztecs, the Inca or perhaps the Maya. A new paper, published in De Gruyter's open access journal Open Archeology, by Michael E. Smith of Arizona State University shows how this view of American civilizations is narrow. It is entitled "The Teotihuacan Anomaly: The Historical Trajectory of Urban Design in Ancient Central Mexico."

Myths & Legends

A vase-scene from about 410 BC. Nimrod/Herakles, wearing his fearsome lion skin headdress, spins Noah/Nereus around and looks him straight in the eye. Noah gets the message and grimaces, grasping his scepter, a symbol of his rule - soon to be displaced in the post-Flood world by Nimrod/Herakles, whose visage reveals a stern smirk.
The Book of Genesis describes human history. Ancient Greek religious art depicts human history. While their viewpoints are opposite, the recounted events and characters match each other in convincing detail. This brief article focuses on how Greek religious art portrayed Noah, and how it portrayed Nimrod in his successful rebellion against Noah’s authority.

Human Origins

Ancient Technology

All images courtesy of Dr Rita Louise
The vajra is the most important ritual implement of Vajrayana Buddhism. In Sanskrit, the word vajra is defined as something hard or mighty, as in a diamond. It symbolizes an impenetrable, immovable and indestructible state of knowledge and enlightenment.

Ancient Places

The Tsar Bath of the Babolovo Palace
Babolovo (known also as Babolovka) Palace is a historical building located near the city of St. Petersburg, Russia. This palace was built in towards the end of the 18th century, during the reign of Catherine II of Russia (also commonly known as Catherine the Great).

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article