Discovery of the Langjunxi City of the Liao and Jin Dynasty in Tangyuan, Heilongjiang Province
The Langjunxi ancient city is located 1 kilometer northeast to the Zhengxing village, at the Tangyuan County, Heilongjiang Province. It is situated on the west of the Sanjiang Plain. The city is more or less in rectangular shape, surrounded by a layer of rammed earth wall. The east wall is 200 meters long while the west, north and south wall is 250 meters, 450 meters, and 470 meters long respectively. The overall length of the walls is about 1370 meters. There is another layer of moat surrounding the walls. The remaining height of the wall is about 2 meters, of which the foundation is 9 meters wide at the bottom and 2 meters wide at the top. Bastion structures (Mamian) were constructed. Totally there are five bastion structures（Mamian） in the north wall, three in the west wall and one in the east wall. There are two watchtowers (turret) at the northeast and northwest corner. A barbican entrance (Wengcheng) was discovered at the south section of the west wall. There are tiles and wheel-made grey pottery shards distributed within the ancient city. During 2016 June to July, Heilongjiang Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology conducted the excavation of the Langjunxi ancient city.
The aerial view of the Langjunxi City
The aerial view of West gate and the barbican entrance
West gate and the barbican entrance (Wengcheng)
The archaeologist focused on the west gate and the barbican entrance (Wengcheng)，whose purpose was to confirm the west gate and outside moat’s structure as well as the trend of the barbican entrance wall. Nineteen excavation unit (grid) measured 5 meters *5 meters were distributed within the barbican entrance, covering an area of 475 square meters.
The barbican entrance (Wengcheng) has a horse hoof shaped plan. It was attached to the west gate of the main city. A small exit was constructed at its southeast corner adjacent to the west wall of the main city. The barbican entrance (Wengcheng) is 18.1meters long from north to south and 17.6 meters long from east to west. The west gate of the main city is 5.5 meters wide whereas the exit is about 9.4 meters wide.
Instead of digging into the earth, the barbican entrance (Wengcheng) was constructed on the top of those rammed earth foundations on the surface ground. The wall is 4 meters wide and 1.35 meters residual high. Six layers of stamped earth are recognized the heights of which vary from 0.05 meters to 0.4 meters. The texture of the foundation earth is fairly hard, among which mixed clay pottery fragments. A section of the moat (G1) was unearthed outside the barbican entrance (Wengcheng) wall, which were filled with soft dark grey soil along with black and gray pottery fragments, pebbles, animal bones and a great deal of ashes.
One road remain (L1) was uncovered within the barbican entrance, the stratigraphy of which suggests of multiple episodes of flood. A number of rammed earth foundations were also found. The road is north south aligned. The surface is covered with greyish brown soil. In the layer of soil, there are discoveries of pottery fragments, pebbles, tiles and animal bones. Shallow drainages were built on both side of the road. The road leads to the exit of the barbican entrance (Wengcheng) at its south end. The stratigraphy and its contents indicate that it was constructed no later than the Liao and Jin Dynasty.
The south section of the west wall is overlapped by the dam remnant which is hard for excavation. Consequently the excavation was conducted at the north section of the west wall. The exploratory trench is vertical to the wall, located at the center of the west wall, covering an excavation area of 32 square meters.
The wall was stamped between board frames, comprising eight layers of rammed earth. It remains 3.5 meters high, 10 meters wide at the bottom. A small number of grey clay pottery shards were mixed in the stamped layers. The moat is located close to the wall on its outer side, the opening of which is about 1.5-1.85 meters deep. It is approximately 4.25 meters wide and 1.4 meters deep. The wall of the moat is upright. The moat was full of black mud, a few of grey clay pottery shards and animal bones. Inside the wall, the drainage was constructed next to the wall. The wall was built upon the ground without digging into the foundation. The rammed earth was composed of soft loose sandy soil. There are no traces of re-repairs found in later period.
The cross-section of west wall
Pottery composed the largest proportion of the assemblage unearthed. Most of them were made of grey muddy clay and decorated with impressions, scratches and bow-string patterns. Pottery types include jar ‘guan’, bowl ‘wan’, dish ‘pen’, bat ‘pai’ (for spreading), ball and bead. Porcelains include a small number of white enamel fragments and some vessel base. Other artifacts include iron tools such as arrowheads and knives, bone tools such as awls and raw ingredient and lithics such as grinding stones. A small number of faunal remains were also collected, including cattle, sheep and roe deer remains.
The cross-section of the barbican entrance
The Langjunxi ancient city is one of the significant archaeological discoveries of the Liao and Jin dynasty in Heilongjiang Province.
The layout of the Langjunxi city shares the general characteristics of ancient cities during the Liao and Jin Dynasty. There is another city, the Walihuotun city, located to its opposite on the right of the Songhua River, was once the important capital of"Five Nations Tribe" (wuguobu) during the Liao and Jin Dynasty. Taking their locations into consideration, the Langjunxi city might have also play an important strategic and defensive role in the Liao and Jin Dynasty.
Thanks to the recent excavation, the construction technique employed to build the city wall is unraveled. The city wall was built from upon the surface ground and made of layers of stamped earth between board frames. Outside it is further protected by a layer of moat while inside shallow ditches were constructed. Both the stratigraphy and unearthed assemblages indicate that the city was built during the Liao and Jin Dynasty.
Due to the river erosion, the west gate and the exit of the barbican entrance (Wengcheng) have been partially destroyed. Through the excavation on the remaining parts, it becomes clear about the location and structure of the west gate and the trend of the barbican entrance (Wengcheng) wall. It has a horse hoof shaped plan, protected by the moat. It is likely that the exit of the barbican entrance (Wengcheng) was connected by a suspension bridge.
This excavation renders precious evidence regarding the city layout and construction techniques of the Liao and Jin Dynasty. It contributes to our understanding of the ancient city archaeological remains in Heilongjiang region during the Liao and Jin Dynasty and the ethnic history in the region of northeast China. In addition, it also calls researchers’ attention on issue about site preservation. (Translator: Dong Ningning)