Largest-ever archeological dig at park offers glimpse into glorious past
A massive archaeological excavation underway at Beijing's Old Summer Palace, or Yuanmingyuan Park, has uncovered more than 50,000 cultural relics so far.
The excavation, which was started in 2013 and will be completed in 2020, is the biggest in the ruined Yuanmingyuan Park so far, and has already covered 7,000 square meters.
Bronzeware, jadeware and chinaware have been unearthed, and a gilding elephant head is the most precious among all items, according to a statement sent to the Global Times by the Yuanmingyuan Park.
All of the excavated relics will be exhibited in the park until October, it said.
The project is aimed at building a visible, three-dimensional platform for archaeological achievements and protecting the remains of the palace.
"A few sections of the palace survived the fire and destruction of the 1860s … that's why we want to unearth the remains that are buried underneath, so the visitors can see that the Yuanmingyuan Park is iconic," Chen Hui, chief of the park's archaeological department, was quoted by China Central Television as saying.
The Yuanmingyuan Park was used as a royal garden of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and was known for its variety of greenery, exquisite architecture and many works of art. Unfortunately, British and French expeditionary forces destroyed it during the Second Opium War (1856-60).
Three archaeological excavations have been conducted at the Yuanmingyuan Park since the year of 1996.
"The park's glorious past cannot be restored any more, but these relics will let the public know more about the park and its history," reads the park's statement.
"The exhibition of these cultural relics should also instill patriotic feelings among Chinese people, because they can see how glorious our country used to be and how the glory got trampled by invaders," Tian Lin, a professor of ancient architecture at the Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture, told the Global Times on Monday.
A team from Tsinghua University used virtual reality technique to delicately restore 60 percent of the original appearance of Yuanmingyuan, the Beijing Daily reported in April.
The university's project took more than 80 professionals and 15 years to finish. More than 10,000 historical files were researched; over 4,000 design charts were rehabilitated; and 2,000 digital architecture models were created.
The result of the project has been incorporated in the audio-visual tour system of the park.