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Ming Dynasty Stele Discovered During Great Wall Repair in Hebei

CultureMing Dynasty Stele Discovered During Great Wall Repair in Hebei

Amidst the extensive repair work of China’s iconic Great Wall in the Hebei Province, a significant archaeological discovery was made – a white marble stele dating back to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). This nearly 500-year-old artifact stands as a testament to China’s rich history and the individuals who played pivotal roles in shaping the nation.

The stele, which stands at 78 centimeters in height, 48 centimeters in width, and 20 centimeters in thickness, was set up in 1569. Its purpose was to commemorate the construction of the defensive structures at a particular section of the Great Wall. Intriguingly, the stele reveals that this construction was overseen by ten civil and military officials. Leading the group was the esteemed military general Qi Jiguang, a figure celebrated in Chinese history for his contributions to the nation’s defense.

This relic was found during restoration efforts in Luanping County, specifically at the Wudaoliang section of the Great Wall. Remarkably, despite its age, the stele has withstood the test of time. Its external façade remains in pristine condition, with its inscriptions appearing clear and detailed. These inscriptions provide a wealth of information: from the exact date when the defensive structure was completed to the names, native regions, and specific roles of the officials involved in the construction process.

Gao Yang, an authority in historical artifacts and the chief curator at the Luanping County Museum, shed further light on the stele’s significance. He emphasized that the information inscribed on the marble aligns with historical documents, confirming the stele’s authenticity. Gao elaborated that such artifacts were not mere decorative items but served a functional purpose: to record and commemorate significant construction undertakings of that period.

Beyond offering insights into architectural practices and personnel of the time, the stele serves as an invaluable resource for scholars. It can deepen understanding of the construction, management, and defense strategies of the Ming Dynasty Great Wall.

The recent months have seen the region become a treasure trove of Ming Dynasty artifacts. Just a few weeks before the stele’s discovery, another fragmented stone relic with a 538-year history surfaced in Huanghua city in Cangzhou, also situated in Hebei. This particular stele, measuring 1.75 meters by 0.4 meters, was crafted to honor a local temple dedicated to Bixia Yuanjun, a Taoist deity known to bestow blessings and luck upon her devotees. Like the previously discussed stele, this one too hails from the Ming Dynasty and stands as the earliest known artifact that captures the folk traditions of the region.

Together, these findings underscore the immense historical and cultural wealth of the region, offering scholars and enthusiasts alike a deeper glimpse into China’s illustrious past.


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