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Archeologists make find on Kublai Khan

THE layout of Kublai Khan's empire has been sketched after a large-scale excavation, archeologists said yesterday in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

"The most exciting findings are the layout of a moat in front of the Mingde Gate to the royal capital and the highest building of Muqingge," said Yang Xingyu, a senior archeologist with the Inner Mongolia regional bureau of cultural relics.

Archeologists spent three months excavating the ruins of Shangdu, which was built in 1256 under the command of Kublai Khan, the first emperor of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). It became a summer resort after the dynasty moved its capital to present-day Beijing in 1276. The city was destroyed during a peasant uprising at the end of the dynasty.

Yang said that the excavation work is expected to take three years to unearth and restore some of the ancient structures in an area of 1,500 square meters.

"We found the royal mansion of Muqingge was built on a drained lake and is characteristic of the Han architecture from that period of time," he said.

Italian traveler Marco Polo (1254-1324) once described the prosperity of Shangdu, which he called Xanadu, in his book, which aroused great interest among overseas archeologists, historians and travelers.

"The Italian traveler was probably received by Emperor Kublai Khan in Shangdu through the gate of Mingde, which could only be used by royal members and dignitaries," Yang said.

The regional government has submitted an application for World Cultural Heritage status for the site to the state department for the preservation of cultural and historical relics and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

The Website of the World Heritage Site showed the historical remains at Shangdu are included on China's tentative list.

"It is widely acknowledged in the archeological world that the Yuan Dynasty capital building in Beijing, known as Dadu, inherited the style of Shangdu. The structures and many names of the landmarks are the same or very similar," said Yang.


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