Imperial Villa and Temple found at Daqincun village in Shandong dated from the Northern Dynasties to Five Dynasties
In November 2016, Shandong Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology conducted the salvage excavation at the exposed remains in Daqincun village, Dong’e County, Liaocheng City, Shandong Province. The Daqincun site is located to the east of the Daqin reservoir, which was deeply buried at the level 6m underneath the surface. The core area of the site is 145m long from south to north and 110m wide from east to west. The unearthed culture relics there tell that this site is dated from the late Northern Wei period to the later Zhou Dynasty. The TianqiDawang Imperial Villa (which means the Imperial Villa for the King Equal of Heaven) is preserved in excellent condition.
Aerail photot of the TianqiDawang Imperial Villa
The TianqiDawang Imperial Villa is “L”-shaped, of which the longest measurement from north to south is 84m, and the widest from west to east is 70m. The surrounding walls are partially preserved, and each of them is 2.5-3.8m wide, 0.3-0.5m high. The section of the east wall is indicative of rammed-earth structure scrambled with burnt earth and tile fragments. Along the inner side of walls stand lines of tree trucks. Within the villa, two main palaces, stone Buddhist Scriptures, shrine, and gates are allied on the central axis while locations of other buildings display a symmetrical layout. The west wing next to the main palace is composed of 5 house remains. In the south of the west wing lies the west building complex comprising 4 house foundations and 1 annex house remain. The east building complex is south to the east wing of the main palace, where 2 house remains were excavated. Most of these buildings were build with bricks, steps, aprons, paved bricks, and threshold stones, all of which is still in good condition.
Stone tablets from Northern Dynasties
Assemblages excavated from the villa compose of many exquisitely made items, including merit steles, stone Buddha statues, statue standing seats, clay tiles, building components, wooden items, ceramics fragments, coins and so forth. The three merit steles inscribe the life of the donator, who once was appointed as prefectural governor of Ji Prefect. The coins discovered include Wuzhu coins, ChangpingWuzhu coins, YonganWuzhu coins, Kaiyuan coins and Sassanian silver coins. Ceramics were fired at Ding Kiln and Xing Kiln, comprising largely bowls and pots. Some of these ceramics were inscribed with notes at the bottom. Wooden items include beams, brackets and combs. Besides, in the shrine there are probably remains of round joss paper with square hole at the center which had not been entirely burnt.
Unearthed buddha statue
So far the evidence indicates that many items left by previous dynasties were still in use in the temple. Some houses were even refurbished. Outside the villa, there are 6 house remains, 1 water well and 1 tomb. House remains have been severely destroyed so that only foundations could be identified.
The Longxing temple of the Tang Dynasty was no longer preserved at that time. However, a large number of associated remains were uncovered in the villa, including Buddhosnisah Dharani Dhvaja, ceramic bowls with ‘Longxing Temple’s marks, stone tablets inscribed with texts explaining the making of statues, and so forth. The Longxing Temple was established in the beginning of the Tang Dynasty the latest and abandoned during the middle Tang Dynasty.
Buddhosnisah Dharani Dhvaja of Longxing temple
Quite a lot of ceramic fragments were scattered around the area which is 100m north-west to the site. This area is 400m long from west to east and 300m wide from north to south. It seemed that it would be a settlement in the past.
Part of the Heavenly Kings statue
The Daqincun site is so far one of the religion remains found within Shandong region with the longest duration and the biggest scale. The recovery of the TianqiDawang Imperial Villa is unique in terms of archaeological discovery, which provides profound information about the development of the Mountain Tai worship. Those stone tablets, statues, ceramics with marks found at the site are also of importance, casting light upon the spread of Buddhism, hydrological changes, folk religion systems during the Southern and Northern Dynasties, and Sui and Tang Dynasties, (Translator: Dong Ningning)