Today, we’re beginning a brand new series. It’s all about the ancient city of Zhengzhou, which is today the capital of Henan province. Our story begins in 1954, when a villager in Zhengzhou out collecting soil from near the remains of an old earthen wall, found a round, rusted metal container. Archaeologists who examined the object, dated it back to several thousand years ago. They eventually identified it as a wine vessel used by a Shang-dynasty aristocrat. Such was the interest generated by this find, that later that same year a full-scale excavation was launched at the site of the ancient wall. Nobody involved in the dig could have predicted what they would turn up.
Initially, what the archaeologists anticipated finding at the Zhengzhou site, was a Shang Dynasty burial ground. In the event, as the dig progressed, they became increasingly confused by that they were uncovering.
With three sides now revealed, the archaeologists at the Zhengzhou site, now focused on finding the southern part of the city wall. The team, as they probed southward along the western wall, found that the rammed earth extended all the way to the southwest corner of Zhengzhou’s old city wall. But what was the significance of this discovery?
A series of discoveries made in and around Zhengzhou since the middle of last century, pointed to the city being the site of the ancient Shang Dynasty capital, some 3600 years ago. Eventually, in 2004, data acquired during the “Xia, Shang and Zhou Dynasties Chronology Project”, combined with physical evidence such as a large bronze ding vessel, led to a highly significant conclusion being reached: that Zhengzhou, with its Shang Dynasty site, could rightly be counted among the eight great capitals of China.