Online Furor Prompts Preservation of Ancient Walls
Xinhua, February 17, 2012
Authorities of central Hunan province vowed Thursday to preserve two sections of ancient walls, dating back to the Song Dynasty (960--1279), after online reports said the relic would be moved to another site.
Though the exact preservation measure had not yet been decided, officials in the provincial capital Changsha said they had submitted protection proposals to the national cultural relic bureau and would await its decision.
"We have already reached the consensus of protecting the walls, but the issue is whether to restore it where it sits or relocate the relics," said Guo Weimin, chief of the city's archaeological institute.
The relics, including ancient bricks and tiles, were unearthed in late November by Wanda Plaza Investment Corporation, subsidiary of Wanda Group. The relics were buried beneath a residential construction site in downtown Changsha.
The construction work was then halted, and the city's government said it had organized archaeologists to preserve the relics.
But then an online post saying that the relics would be demolished caught the public's attention. The controversy has gained steam after a string of demolitions, including the bulldozing down of the former home of Liang Sicheng, a famous late architect, in Beijing.
"Reliable sources said the ancient wall would be demolished after all," Liu Su, an architecture professor of Hunan University said Thursday on his microblog at web portal sina.com.
The issue has ignited heated online discussions on whether the walls should be relocated.
Liu Su suggested that the relic should be preserved in its original location, "the ancient gate should not be shifted from where it's located, otherwise it will leave a distorted image to future generations," Liu said.
"Relocation or the so-called rebuilding is a mere virtual artwork, and the ancient walls, with Changsha's history and memories inscribed into its bricks, should remain at the place where it is," wrote the Internet user who went by the alias "bukaopudelaoyu."
Another Internet user "Shenglong" said the in situ protection of the ancient walls could be like the Acropolis Museum in Athens to protect every artifact found.
But some experts fear the upcoming flood season in April might hamper the in situ protection, as swelling river water could damage the walls, which rest at the same level as the riverbed just 100 meters away.
"The conclusion will be drawn within 46 days before the start of the flood season, and the government is working on the technical details of the preservation," Chen Yuanping, chief of Hunan provincial cultural relic bureau, said.
Stretching about 120 meters along the Xiang River, the walls are acclaimed of equal significance to Mawangdui tomb, which is famous for a well-preserved 2,000-year-old woman's corpse excavated in Changsha four decades ago, according to Chen.
Recommended China Guide: