Tuesday 16 May 2023

Yangshan Quarry: A Puzzling Enigma of Ancient Chinese Engineering

Yangshan Quarry: Unveiling the Enigmatic Ruins of Ancient China
Credit @Vivian May

Nestled alongside the Yanmen Shan mountain, approximately 20 kilometres east of Nanjing, China, lies the mysterious Yangshan quarry. While its origins date back to the Six Dynasties period (220 - 589 AD), the majority of the work at Yangshan is associated with the construction boom that followed the founding of the Ming dynasty in 1368 AD. Legend has it that an ambitious project to create an enormous stele for the Ming Xiaoling mausoleum led to a monumental failure. However, upon closer examination, the Yangshan site is an enigma of ancient Chinese engineering and reveals intriguing features that challenge the conventional notion of it being a simple quarry.

The Gigantic Stele and a Costly Mistake:

The tale goes that stonemasons at Yangshan initially attempted to craft three colossal blocks for a stele dedicated to the Emperor. However, they soon realized their miscalculation as the blocks turned out to be excessively large. The actual stele stands at 6.7 meters (22 feet) tall, weighing around 100 tons. In contrast, the mistakenly attempted stele would have been over 73 meters high and weighed a staggering 31,000 tons. The perplexing question arises: How did the master masons embark on such an audacious endeavour?

Unmasking China's Hidden Megalithic Treasures
Credit: @Jasonfu

Questionable Decisions and Curious Carvings:

The story raises doubts about the competence of the masons entrusted with constructing such a grand monument. The variations in size, placement, and shape of the cuts on the stones suggest they were never intended to be placed together. Moreover, the site itself displays peculiar features inconsistent with a typical quarry. Protrusions on the stones, smooth cylindrical segments removed without purpose, and engravings resembling entoptic phenomena hint at an artistic and ritualistic significance rather than mere quarrying activities.

Beyond a Quarry: The Mystery Deepens:

The scale of rock removal at Yangshan surpasses what one would expect from a regular quarry. Millions of tons of rock appear to have been displaced, leaving towering flat walls that defy traditional quarrying practices. The similarities between Yangshan and the enigmatic Longyou caves, located a few hundred miles away, suggest a larger ancient engineering project. The possibility of using rubble-masonry stonework and rammed-earth techniques to shape the site's different parts adds to the enigma surrounding Yangshan's original purpose.

Yangshan's Astonishing Ancient Structures and Engravings
Credit @Vivian May

China's Ancient Ruins and Secrecy:

The secrecy surrounding China's ancient ruins, coupled with the denial of certain megalithic sites, further shrouds Yangshan in mystery. The Chinese government restricts access to many sites, including the most significant and intriguing structures. The existence of numerous pyramids was initially concealed, and some structures were even covered with fast-growing conifers to hide them from aerial surveillance. These actions fuel speculation about a deliberate effort to protect and conceal ancient wonders.

A Lost Legacy of Engineering:

Like other ancient megalithic sites, Yangshan showcases advanced engineering techniques that have long been forgotten. Its builders possessed knowledge and skills that differ from our modern understanding. This disparity in techniques and ideologies highlights a culture that flourished in a vastly different era, leaving behind an enduring puzzle for researchers and enthusiasts to unravel.

A Puzzling Enigma of Ancient Chinese Engineering

The Yangshan quarry, once believed to be a site of failed engineering, reveals itself as a complex enigma that defies easy categorization. The colossal stele and the strange features found within the site challenge the conventional notion of it being a mere quarry. The mysteries surrounding Yangshan, combined with China's secrecy surrounding ancient ruins, create an aura of intrigue and invite further exploration. As we delve deeper into the ancient past, we encounter remnants of a lost legacy, offering glimpses into a different era of human history. Yangshan stands as a testament to the ingenuity and skills of ancient cultures, reminding us that there are still mysteries waiting to be unravelled, and that the past holds secrets that can reshape our understanding of the world.

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