By Chen Jiayi
rom 12 to 14 May, academic seminar on new archaeological discoveries of the Grand Canal and release conference on archaeological achievements of Xujiaqiao site was held in Rugao. It sent an important message to the world: the ancient ‘trench’ canal site which was built more than 1400 years ago under the reign of Emperor Yang of Sui Dynasty was discovered.
The Grand Canal of China is the oldest, longest, largest canal with longest operation time in the world. Within borders of Nantong, canal system formed by Tongyang Canal and Chuanchang River, is an important tributary of the Grand Canal.
In March 2022, a joint archaeological team formed by Nanjing University and Rugao Museum carried out archaeological exploration in Xujiaqiao section area. There, they discovered an ancient relic site which was 90 meters long (east section) to 120 meters long (west section) in north-south direction and about 200 meters wide in east-west direction.
After close to 10 months of excavation and exploration, in Xujiaqiao site, archaeologists discovered 11 relic sites such as ancient canal relic site which was no later than Tang Dynasty, trench of Late Tang and Five Dynasties period, and ancient river channels, trenches and pits of Song Dynasty. More than 200 cultural relic specimens from Tang Dynasty to Song Dynasty were excavated, including porcelain, glazed pottery, ironware, copper coin, bronze statue, brick and tile, and building parts etc.
Archaeological discoveries proved that today’s historical area of Rugao had already been an important town along the ancient Tongyang canal at least in the late Tang Dynasty.