Erlitou Site Museum of the Xia dinasty | The Plan
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Erlitou Site Museum of the Xia dinasty

A former capital comes to light

TJAD | Rurban Studio

Always surprising, the history of humankind often turns up the most unexpected of surprises. Even when it seems that the past has no more secrets, a discovery is made or a study conducted that throws new light on events, proving ancients legends to be true and leading to the rediscovery of forgotten places once the vibrant hub of a lost civilization. The impassioned work of the archaeologist often goes hand-in-hand with that of the literary expert who sifts through ancient texts to find the keys to what we non-experts can only describe as a fascinating treasure hunt in which written accounts confirm the basic truth of ancient legends of long-lost people and places - stories handed down by an oral tradition where details of time and place have often been lost or confused. 
Indeed, the legendary city of Troy was found thanks to Heinrich Schliemann’s relentless pursuit based on Homer’s accounts. Likewise, some 60 years ago, the Chinese historian Xu Xusheng set out from Beijing to prove the historical reality of the legend of the first mythical dynasty - the Xia dynasty (2070 - 1600 BC) - considered by some authors as the beginnings of China’s ancient culture. 
Basing his search on legends and a few sparse finds, Xu traced the stories back in time. They led him to the province of Henan where he started excavating near a village called Erlitou, discovering the largest bronze age archeological site in Western Asia. 
Xu Xusheng found what was initially called the Erlitou Civilization at its height around 3,800 years ago. As the dig proceeded, however, it became increasingly evident that what had been unearthed was what the literature describes as the Xia dynasty. Of monumental importance for Chinese culture, what has been brought to light over the last 60 years is also of immense value to the whole of humanity, proving yet again how human intelligence and enterprise have always followed the same path, especially as...

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