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Scientists discover ancient sea wharf
30/12/2004 7:32

Archeologists say that they have found the country's oldest wharf and it is believed to be the starting point of an ancient sea route to Central and West Asia.

The discovery has reaffirmed the widespread belief that the ancient trade route started in Hepu County, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, archeologists said at yesterday's symposium on the nation's marine silk road.

After three years of excavation, archeologists have unearthed a wharf that is at least 2,000 years old in Guchengtou Village, according to Xiong Zhaoming, head of the archeological team.

At the same site, Xiong and his colleagues also excavated relics from an ancient city wall, a moat, some gravel and fragments of porcelain with graphics.

"This is enough evidence to say the village was the site of the Hepu county government more than 2,000 years ago,"  Xiong said.

According to Han Shu Record, also the history of the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD), the five counties of Hepu prefecture had a population of 80,000 residents.

"We can assume Hepu alone had no more than 20,000 and it was quite natural for the magistrate's office to be located in the commercial hub," Xiong said.

Scholars have been searching for concrete evidence to confirm a statement in Han Shu Record, which said the ancient marine silk road started in Hepu of Guangxi and Xuwen counties in neighboring Guangdong Province.

"The new finding has supported the statement and proven the ancient wharf's role in China's foreign trade more than 2,000 years ago," Xiong said at the symposium.

The two-day symposium has drawn more than 50 archeologists, geologists, historians and geographers from across the country.

Historical records show that foreign trade via the marine silk road dated to the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-24 AD), about 200 years earlier than the inland Silk Road in northwestern China - known as the country's oldest trade route to Central and West Asia as well as Europe.