Archaeologists recently confirmed the construction period of an ancient temple in the ruins of Suoyang City, Jiuquan, Northwest China's Gansu province, saying it was a high-level temple along the ancient Silk Road. The temple is named Ta'er.
Wang Jianjun, who leads the excavation at the site and is from Dunhuang Academy, says there is mention of the temple in literature, while archaeological evidence demonstrates that the temple was built in the Sui (581-618) and Tang (618-907) dynasties.
Covering an area of around 22,000 square meters, the ruins show that there was a 14.5-meter-high pagoda and nine smaller ones. Bases of a drum tower and a bell tower, as well as several monks' rooms, have also been found during the excavation of the site. More than 100 cultural relics, including eaves tiles, ceramic animal horns, mural debris and statue debris have been unearthed.
"The discovery of many architectural fragments with yellow and green glaze suggests the high status of the temple back then, which further proves the importance of Suoyang," Wang says.
The site was one of the locations along the Silk Roads: Routes Network of the Chang'an-Tianshan Corridor, which was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2014.
Wang notes that they also discovered a number of cultural relics featuring Western Xia Dynasty (1038-1227) elements, indicating that the temple was flourishing at that time.
The excavation project, which was launched in 2019, will last through to 2023. Archaeologists are expected to further unveil the mysteries of the ancient city as they gather more archaeological evidence, Wang adds.