Friday, November 04, 2011

Beijing - Marco Polo Bridge, Zhoukoudian, Dabaotai Western Han Tomb

While C was doing what astrophysicist do I hired a driver (yes, one can get used to it *LOL*) and went off to see some more sites.

Our first stop was Luguo Bridge (卢沟桥), also called Marco Polo Bridge. Beijings's oldest surviving bridge was mentioned in Marco Polo's book The Travels of Marco Polo, Vol. 2, chapter 35 which he had written during the late 13th century. The bridge however, is much older. The even earlier wooden bridge was replaced by a stone construction in AD 1189 by She Tsung from the Jin Dynasty. The most remarkable thing about the bridge is the countless lions which adorn the sides of the bridge. No wonder Marco Polo described it as the finest bridge he had ever seen.

The lion figures you can see here are from different periods. Few are from the Jin Dynasty (AD 1115-1234) or Yuan Dynasty (AD 1271-1368); the majority are from the Ming Dynasty (AD 1368-1644) or even later from the Qing Dynasty (AD 1644-1911). Here are some photos of different lions, no two of them alike:

One of the rarer male lions:

The original stone plaster:

more exhibits in front of the bridge:

After I got tired of counting lions we went on and headed for Zhoukoudian (周口店), the site of Peking Man. The limestone caves and fissures of the site yielded remains of at least 45 individuals belonging to Homo erectus species and from a later occupation during the Upper Palaeolithic further Homo sapiens remains. The site is famous because it shows evidence for early use of fire by Homo erectus.

A view of the museum:

Frontal bone from the excavation in 1966:

Bone needle from Upper Cave, Archaic Homo sapiens, about 20,000 BP:

Homo erectus liked his hackberries (a stone fruit from a tree belonging to the hemp family):

The exterior presents models of contemporary animals like the wholly rhino:

The ash layer:

Loved the hyaenas:

Outside the museum Wuyuta, my driver was already waiting for me:

So after some refreshing cold water we went off to see the Western Han tomb Dabaotai (大葆台). You may as well forget the famous Ming Dynasty tombs, because this tomb is the most awesome tomb I have ever seen in China. Besides the entry is free, all you have to do is show them your passport and explain in which field is your name and in which your country because they can't read our alphabet :)

Much older than the Ming tombs it was built during the Jin Dynasty, for prince Liu Jian (73-45 BC) to be more specific. Here is an overview over Liu Jian's tomb (tomb 1):
Adapted after
The entrance to the tomb is made a bit according to the later Ming tombs, just red poles instead of the stone animals that usually line the path:

A nice phoenix statue

I loved the 'Simulated Archaeology Hall' :)

Here, children can play Indiana Jones, or rather not, I have never seen Indy crawling in the dirt with a trowel in his hand. But they can play archaeologist; I just wonder what they hide in the sand for the kids?

When I came back a praying mantis was waiting on top of the car. This must certainly be a symbol of luck :)

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