Shichengzi Site is located at Qitai County, Changji Hui Autonomous Region, Xinjiang. It’s one of the important corridors connecting the northern and southern parts of Tianshan Mountain. From 2014 to 2016, consistent archaeological surveys of the site were carried out by Xinjiang Autonomous Regional Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology. Significant achievements mainly include the discoveries of city gate, inner city and so on. Meanwhile, full-range data of the site was comprehensively collected by modern technologies, such as magnetic detection and RTK and etc.
The site is about rectangular in plane, about 280 meters wide from east to west and 380 meters long from north to south. The overall size is 110000 meters square. In the north and west, there were city walls. In the east and south, there were ravines as natural barriers. In the northwest, there was an inner city being rebuilt, about 200 meters long from east to west and 100 meters wide from south to north. The city walls were constructed all by rammed earth. The wall base was about 9.6 meters wide and more than 3 meters high residue. The city gate was arranged in the middle of the west wall with clear form.
From May to September 2016, excavation was carried out in the northwest of the inner city. The excavated area covers 640 square meters. 2 groups of house remains were cleared, including 8 rooms. Western group of house remains was 22.5 meters long from east to west and 12.4 meters wide from south to north. It was a suite containing 5 rooms and the door is facing south. The main hall was located at south in a long-strip shape from east to west. 3 stone plinths were placed at middle-east, arranging from south to north, The gate was in the middle part of south wall and 1.9 meters wide. The walls were 0.7m wide and 0.1-1.3 meters high residue and were constructed by adobes. Most of the gates were in the east end of south walls and were 1.06-1.23 meters wide. There were water aprons in the northern alley. The east part of east group of housing remains has not been excavated. Now east group of house remains is 15.4 meters long from east to west and 12.6 meters wide from south to north. There were 3 rooms lining from south to north. Doorways were all on west walls.
There were plenty of collapsed tiles in the rooms. Inclusions among them were some pottery shards and square bricks. Beneath the tiles, there were burning traces, such as burned red earth, carbon granules, ash and so on. According to preliminary judgment, the house should be ruined by fire.
Artifacts range from all kinds of constructed materials containing pan-tiles, imbrexs and eaves tiles, as well as pottery, bronze, stone and bone artifacts and so on. Construction materials were all made with high temperature and rather tough. The surface of the tile had cord patterns, the inner surface of the tile had textile impression, some had diamond pattern. On the face of eave tiles, there were usually cloud patterns. All these are of Han Dynasty style. Potteries were all wheel-made. Sand-tempered gray potteries were the mainstreams. Most of them were plain, only a few had bow-string patterns. Shapes of the pottery include basins, zeng-steamers, bo-bowls and bowls and etc. Based on the unearthed archaeological materials, it’s almost sure to say that Shichengzi ancient city belonged to Han Dynasty.
As a relatively complete small-scale city, Shichengzi Site is not large at all. However, the well preserved houses remain is quite rare. Besides, its scientific and systematical excavation sets an extraordinary example for dealing with layout and functional sections for small-medium scaled city site. The site was situated at the strategic road that the Empire of central China used to control the Western Regions during West and East Han Dynasties. Therefore, it is of important academic value for study on administration of the Western Regions during the periods. Moreover, uncovered artifacts from the site not only have similar technologies and artistic style with contemporary artifacts found in central China, but also they have local characteristics. In this way, they make much sense for people to understand Sino-western cultural exchanges of the Silk Road. (Translator: Ma Huanhuan)