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Imperial office at the ruins of Daming Palace in China

Imperial Office of the Tang Dynasty discovered at the ruins of Daming Palace

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Excavations at the ruins of Daming, the “Palace of Great Brilliance”, have unearthed ancient offices which are thought to have been responsible for issuing imperial edicts, official communications of the Chinese Empire that had the force of law.

The Daming Palace, considered a masterpiece in the history of Chinese architecture, was located in the ancient city of Chang'an – present-day Xi'an in Shaanxi Province, China, and was the seat of imperial court and political center of the empire during the Tang Dynasty, 618-907 A.D. It is now a national heritage site .

Chinese archaeologists have been researching and reconstructing the palace complex since the 1950s, and excavating the office areas since 2011, and have now unearthed a 50-square-meter (538 ft²) room within an area of ruins. Another smaller room has been found in addition. These discoveries come after hundreds of cultural relics from the Tang dynasty were uncovered in the vicinity. The relics had inscriptions reading “official” in Chinese characters, leading experts to believe they were used by ancient imperial officials.

Daming Palace Excavations

Research team member excavates at the ruins of Daming Palace. Credit: China Daily

According to China Daily, the structure of the Tang dynasty government was divided up into bureaucratic branches, explaining, “the central government set three sheng, or offices, and six ministries. The zhongshu sheng was for drafting and issuing imperial edicts, the menxia sheng was for checking such edicts, and the shangshu sheng was for managing government affairs. The three sheng were directly under the management of the emperor and were higher than the six ministries.”

Stone inscription discovered in 1956 that commemorates the building of the Hanguang Hall and a polo field in the Daming Palace

Stone inscription discovered in 1956 that commemorates the building of the Hanguang Hall and a polo field in the Daming Palace in 831. Wikimedia CC

China Culture writes that the palace complex housed the royal family and their servants, as well as officials of the sheng, and was used to receive foreign envoys. It was also here that the Emperor held court and issued proclamations. Imperial gardens, beautiful pools, pavilions, and areas of worship dotted the sprawling palace complex grounds.

Emperor Taizong Receiving the Tibetan Envoy

Emperor Taizong Receiving the Tibetan Envoy. Wikimedia

Painting of Emperor Yang of Sui, founder and first emperor of the Tang dynasty

Painting of Emperor Yang of Sui, founder and first emperor of the Tang dynasty. Wikimedia

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Archaeology Institute has uncovered ruins of walls, roads, channels and yards in past digs. Excavation team leader Li Chunlin told China Daily that ruins of central governmental offices have never before been discovered, and the information will help explain more on ancient Chinese governmental structures.

Featured Image: Reconstructed Danfeng Gate of the Daming Palace, Xi'an, China. Wikimedia CC

By April Holloway

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