(ECNS) -- Central China's Henan Province is planning to submit an application to inscribe the Erlitou relics site to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2021.
The site is reportedly the earliest palace ground ever found in China.
Discovered in 1959, it served as the capital city of the Xia Dynasty (around 2070-1600 BC), China's earliest known dynasty.
It is also the earliest prototype of the "Forbidden City" in China, No. 1 turquoise dragon-form artifact, and the large rammed-earth wall and palace-temple structure.
The relic site has kept refreshing records of China's top archaeological discoveries in the past 60 years.
Tian Kai, director of Henan Provincial Administration of Cultural Heritage, said the application will be initially divided into three stages.
"First, we plan to apply it for the tentative list of Chinese World Heritage sites by the end of this year or in early 2022, and add it to UNESCO's list of world heritage sites after inviting the UNESCO to visit it in 2023 or 2024," Tian said.
The application has begun since the Erlitou Site Museum of the Xia Capital opened to the public.
It is a systematic effort, Tian said.
More than 60 years of research and discovery have revealed China's palace system featuring large-area rammed earth and road, the etiquette and ruling systems featuring bronze sacrificial vessels as well as the foundation of a early dynastic state.
Tian attaches much importance to work in excavation, research and conservation of the ruins of the ancient capital.
This year, we plan to excavate sites surrounding the Erlitou ruins to search for clues of the city layout, Tian said.
The application for World Heritage includes not merely the site itself but also related culture context of Xia Dynasty, Tian said, adding an archaeological report on the relics between 2010 and 2018 will be soon issued.
We also report our research on Wadian site, the Wangchenggang site, and the Xinzai Site that share the identical or similar cultures, providing further insights into comprehension of the Erlitou ruins.