Coordinates: Tongwancheng (Chinese :統萬城; pinyin :Tǒngwànchéng) was the capital of the Xia kingdom, a kingdom founded by the Xiongnu in northern China during the Sixteen Kingdoms period in the early 5th century. The city is at the southern edge of the Maowusu Sands of the Ordos Desert, on what was formerly a strategic site in the center of the Ordos Plateau. Tongwancheng, which means the "city ruling ten thousand", is the largest urban center of the Southern Xiongnu that has ever been found. The city's ruins are well preserved and located in Jingbian County, Shaanxi Province, near the border with Inner Mongolia. The city has been surveyed and has had some elements restored, but not yet fully excavated.
The city was built by around 100,000 Xiongnu of the Xia kingdom under the command of Helian Bobo in 419. Helian Bobo, also known by his sinified surname as Liu Bobo, was a descendant of the Xiongnu chanyu ("king") who founded their steppe empire in the 3rd century BC. Helian Bobo died in 425 AD, and Helian Chang succeeded him as ruler of the city.
The Great Wall of China was built to contain the Xiongnu threat, and Tongwancheng was the main Xiongnu capital that stood on other side of that wall. The city was largely of wood construction and had very thick outer walls which were colored white with white clay earth and powdered rice. From a distance the white city was said to have had the appearance of a giant ship. At its center the city had a lake. Jin Shu gives us a contemporary eyewitness description of the city...
At its height the population was around 10,000, likely to have been greatly supplemented by an encircling encampment of nomadic kin groups at certain times of the year. White cities were generally ceremonial and status centers built following conquest, rather than outright military positions, white being a holy color for the Xiongnu. Yet the thickness of the walls was certainly required since the city was originally built at a time of perpetual warfare. The threat was also internal as well as from the Chinese - for instance, Helian Bobo was attacked with an army by his deputy Helian Gui in 424 following a dynastic dispute.
In 426, the Emperor Taiwu of Northern Wei made a surprise attack on Tongwancheng. Although a brief incursion into the city succeeded only in burning the main temple, the surrounding hinterland was devastated. The city's site was on the fertile upper reaches of the Wuding River, but the river and lake died up, possibly due to deforestation that might be traced back to Taiwu's devastation. The city was then gradually buried by the sands of the desert. This 'wandering' (Wuding) gave the river its current name.
The Xiongnu continued to live in the region until the 7th or 8th century. In 786 the city was besieged by Tibetan forces, and it was invaded by Jurchen soldiers in 1206. There is no record of the site in Chinese records after the early 15th century.
The city was only properly surveyed by the Chinese in the 2000s. The city's Yong'an Platform, a military forces inspection platform for dignitaries, has been restored.
The city is also referred to in the literature variously as Tong Wan Cheng, Tongwan-cheng, Tongwan, Xia Zhou, Baichengzi (Chinese:白城子; Wade–Giles:Pai-cheng-tzu), or Bai Cheng (白城; 'White City').
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Year 434 (CDXXXIV) was a common year starting on Monday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Aspar and Areobindus. The denomination 434 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.
Year 425 (CDXXV) was a common year starting on Thursday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Theodosius and Valentinianus. The denomination 425 for this year has been used since the early medieval period, when the Anno Domini calendar era became the prevalent method in Europe for naming years.
The Xiongnu were a tribal confederation of nomadic peoples who, according to ancient Chinese sources, inhabited the eastern Eurasian Steppe from the 3rd century BC to the late 1st century AD. Chinese sources report that Modu Chanyu, the supreme leader after 209 BC, founded the Xiongnu Empire.
The Northern Wei or the Northern Wei Empire, also known as the Tuoba Wei (拓跋魏), Later Wei (後魏), or Yuan Wei (元魏), was a dynasty founded by the Tuoba (Tabgach) clan of the Xianbei, which ruled northern China from 386 to 534 AD, during the period of the Southern and Northern Dynasties. Described as "part of an era of political turbulence and intense social and cultural change", the Northern Wei Dynasty is particularly noted for unifying northern China in 439: this was also a period of introduced foreign ideas, such as Buddhism, which became firmly established.
Xia, known in historiography as Hu Xia (胡夏), Northern Xia (北夏), Helian Xia (赫連夏) or the Great Xia (大夏), was a dynastic state of Xiongnu origin established by Helian Bobo during the Sixteen Kingdoms period in northern China. Prior to establishing the Xia, the imperial clan existed as a tribal entity known as the Tiefu.
The Pang Tong Shrine and Tomb, also known as the Dragon and Phoenix Shrine and the Valley of the Fallen Phoenix, is a shrine and tomb located in Baimaguan Town (白馬關鎮), Luojiang County, Deyang City, Sichuan Province, China. The shrine and tomb was constructed for Pang Tong (179–214), an adviser to Liu Bei, the founding emperor of the state of Shu Han in the Three Kingdoms period. On 25 May 2006, the shrine and tomb became part of the sixth batch of Major Historical and Cultural Sites Protected at the National Level.
Ordos is one of the twelve major subdivisions of Inner Mongolia, China. It lies within the Ordos Plateau of the Yellow River. Although mainly rural, Ordos is administered as a prefecture-level city.
Helian Bobo, né Liu Bobo (劉勃勃), courtesy name Qujie (屈孑), formally Emperor Wulie of Xia (夏武烈帝), was the founding emperor of the Xiongnu state Xia. He is generally considered to be an extremely cruel ruler, one who betrayed every benefactor that he had, and whose thirst for killing was excessive even for the turbulent times that he was in. He built an impressive capital for his state at Tongwancheng that remained difficult to besiege, even hundreds of years later during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period.
Empress Liang was an empress of the Chinese/Xiongnu state Xia. Her husband was the founding emperor, Helian Bobo.
Emperor Taiwu of Northern Wei, personal name Tuoba Tao (拓拔燾), Xianbei name Buri or Bili (佛貍), was an emperor of Northern Wei. He was generally regarded as a capable ruler, and during his reign, Northern Wei roughly doubled in size and united all of northern China, thus ending the Sixteen Kingdoms period and, together with the southern dynasty Liu Song, started the Southern and Northern Dynasties period of ancient China history. He was a devout Taoist, under the influence of his prime minister Cui Hao, and in 444, at Cui Hao's suggestion and believing that Buddhists had supported the rebellion of Gai Wu (蓋吳), he ordered the abolition of Buddhism, at the penalty of death. This was the first of the Three Disasters of Wu for Chinese Buddhism. Late in his reign, his reign began to be cruel, and his people were also worn out by his incessant wars against Liu Song. In 452, he was assassinated by his eunuch Zong Ai, who put his son Tuoba Yu on the throne but then assassinated Tuoba Yu as well. The other officials overthrew Zong and put Emperor Taiwu's grandson Tuoba Jun on the throne as Emperor Wencheng.
Cui Hao (崔浩), courtesy name Boyuan (伯淵), was a prime minister of the Chinese/Xianbei dynasty Northern Wei. Largely because of Cui's counsel, Emperor Taiwu of Northern Wei was able to unify northern China, ending the Sixteen Kingdoms era and, along with the southern Liu Song, entering the Southern and Northern Dynasties era. Also because of the influence of Cui, who was a devout Taoist, Emperor Taiwu became a devout Taoist as well. However, in 450, over reasons that are not completely clear to this day, Emperor Taiwu had Cui and his cadet branch executed.
Helian Chang, courtesy name Huan'guo (還國), nickname Zhe (折), was an emperor of the state Xia. He was the successor and a son of the founding emperor Helian Bobo. After his father's death in 425, he tried to expand Xia further, but soon his state began to collapse in light of pressure from rival Northern Wei. In 427, his capital Tongwan fell to Northern Wei forces, and in 428 he himself was captured. Emperor Taiwu of Northern Wei did not kill him but instead treated him as an honored companion, marrying a sister to him and creating him high titles—initially the Duke of Kuaiji and later the Prince of Qin—but in 434, he tried to escape and was killed.
Helian Ding, nickname Zhifen (直獖), was the last emperor of the Xiongnu state Xia. He was a son of the founding emperor Helian Bobo and a younger brother of his predecessor Helian Chang. After Helian Chang was captured by rival Northern Wei's army in 428, Helian Ding took the throne himself and for several years tried to resist Northern Wei attacks, but by 430 he had lost nearly his entire territory. In 431, he attempted to head west to try to attack Northern Liang and seize its territory, but on the way, he was intercepted by Tuyuhun's khan Murong Mugui (慕容慕璝) and captured, ending Xia. In 432, Murong Mugui turned him over to Emperor Taiwu of Northern Wei, who had him executed.
The Xianbei state or Xianbei confederation was a nomadic empire which existed in modern-day Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, northern Xinjiang, Northeast China, Gansu, Buryatia, Zabaykalsky Krai, Irkutsk Oblast, Tuva, Altai Republic and eastern Kazakhstan from 156-234. Like most ancient peoples known through Chinese historiography, the ethnic makeup of the Xianbei is unclear.
The Sixteen Kingdoms, less commonly the Sixteen States, was a chaotic period in Chinese history from 304 to 439 CE when the political order of northern China fractured into a series of short-lived dynastic states, most of which were founded by the "Five Barbarians," non-Chinese peoples who had settled in northern and western China during the preceding centuries and participated in the overthrow of the Western Jin dynasty in the early 4th century. The kingdoms founded by ethnic Xiongnu, Xianbei, Di, Jie, Qiang, as well as Chinese and other ethnicities, took on Chinese dynastic names, and fought against each other and the Eastern Jin dynasty, which succeeded the Western Jin and ruled southern China. The period ended with the unification of northern China in the early 5th century by the Northern Wei, a dynasty established by the Xianbei Tuoba clan, and the history of ancient China entered the Northern and Southern dynasties period.
The Ordos Plateau or the Ordos is the land enclosed by the Ordos Loop, a large rectangular bend of the Yellow River in northern China. The Great Wall of China cuts across the center, roughly separating the sparsely populated north—considered the Ordos proper—from the agricultural south, known as the Loess Plateau. The Wei River valley, which cuts horizontally across the south of the loop, was one of the cradles of Chinese civilization and remains densely populated, including Xi'an, which long served as the capital of China. The Ordos Desert in the north is administered by Inner Mongolia.
The Wuding River(无定河) begins in the Ordos Desert in Shaanxi Province, Inner Mongolia and flows south into loess canyons and farmland. After around 100 miles it flows into the great Yellow River. The Wuding has its own tributaries, such as the Dali River, Hailiutu River, Hanjiang River, and the Danjiang River. The course of the river roughly parallels the northern route of the ancient Silk Road, now the National Highway 210.
The history of the Great Wall of China began when fortifications built by various states during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods were connected by the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, to protect his newly founded Qin dynasty against incursions by nomads from Inner Asia. The walls were built of rammed earth, constructed using forced labour, and by 212 BC ran from Gansu to the coast of southern Manchuria.
Ji or Jicheng was an ancient city in northern China, which has become the longest continuously inhabited section of modern Beijing. Historical mention of Ji dates to the founding of the Zhou dynasty in about 1045 BC. Archaeological finds in southwestern Beijing where Ji was believed to be located date to the Spring and Autumn period. The city of Ji served as the capital of the ancient states of Ji and Yan until the unification of China by the Qin dynasty in 221 BC. Thereafter, the city was a prefectural capital for Youzhou through the Han dynasty, Three Kingdoms, Western Jin dynasty, Sixteen Kingdoms, Northern Dynasties, and Sui dynasty. With the creation of a Jizhou (蓟州) during the Tang dynasty in what is now Tianjin Municipality, the city of Ji took on the name Youzhou. Youzhou was one of the Sixteen Prefectures ceded to the Khitans during the Five Dynasties. The city then became the southern capital of the Liao dynasty and then main capital of the Jin dynasty (1115–1234). In the 13th century, Kublai Khan built a new capital city for the Yuan dynasty adjacent to Ji to the north. The old city of Ji became a suburb to Dadu. In the Ming dynasty, the old and new cities were merged by Beijing's Ming-era city wall.
The military history of the Jin dynasty encompasses the period of Chinese military activity from the 266 AD to 420 AD. The Jin dynasty is usually divided into the Western and Eastern Jin eras. Western Jin lasted from its usurpation of Cao Wei in 266 to 316 when the Uprising of the Five Barbarians split the empire and created a number of barbarian states in the north. The Jin court fled to Jiankang, starting the era of Eastern Jin, which ended in 420 when it was usurped by Liu Yu, who founded the Liu Song dynasty.