Lost ancient city

After the sun went down, the sun was still missing the sky above the mountains for a while. A long-staple cotton-like cloud stay appeared quietly in the sky and was reflected by the afterglow into a bright orange-red. Several white sparrows flew low over the grassland, and hurriedly returned to the depths of the wormwood plant in the distance, where they came home. Not long after, the light gradually faded, the green grass and colorful wild flowers lost their color, and the sparse stars appeared in the night sky, blinking secretly between the clouds. Night came on the prairie.

Pushing open a hidden low iron door, Hao Ye and I drilled through the wire fence and advanced to the location designated by the satellite map on the mobile phone. The stingless feathergrass ran over the trousers, and the soft grass roots swayed in the night wind. It is 10:30 in the evening, the moon has not yet risen, and the Xing’an Mountains, which is clearly visible during the day, is drowned in heavy darkness. On the phone screen, the light blue positioning light spots mark the target we are looking for. The light beam from the bright flashlight is like being played in the dark by the thick darkness, dissipating in the thick night.

A gust of wind swept across the grassland, and the stems of the feathergrass swayed one after another, and the clouds in the sky revealed a gap. A rising round of the first quarter moon was squeezed out of the cloud slit, and the cold moonlight was sprinkled on the silent grassland, and the outline of the mountains suddenly appeared in the sky.

“Look at it.” Grandpa Hao patted my shoulder and pointed at the front of the grassland bathed in the moonlight.

A tall white tower suddenly appeared at the end of darkness.

In the silver moonlight, Baita stands on the open grassland. This is a seven-story octagonal pavilion-style brick tower. The side of the tower is engraved with a fine relief of the King of Heaven. The King of Heaven holding the magic weapon is silent and looks down at us standing under the tower. Wind chimes are hung under the eaves of the tower, and the magnificent bucket arch is made of brick and stone, small and exquisite.

“Oblique arch.” Grandpa Hao pointed at one of the bucket arches. “This is a typical feature of Liao Dynasty architecture.”

He was right, the White Pagoda in front of him is the building originally built in Liao Dynasty. We stand under the night sky in Sobozhga Town, Balinyou Banner. This is a grassland valley in the middle of the Daxinganling Mountains. In the late 10th century, the place where the white pagoda was was the ancient city of Qingzhou in Liao Dynasty. There used to be hustle and bustle of streets and houses, as well as incense-filled Buddhist temples, but today the buildings in the city have disappeared and turned into half-height grass. Only the lonely white pagoda was surrounded by the residual wall and stood in the middle of the ancient city. Today Sobo Riga Town is a small town with a large population, located on the west side of the ancient city site of Gyeongju. It’s hard to imagine that it was a bustling city 1,000 years ago.

In the traditional impression, the dynasties established by the northern nations in the past lived by water and grass, most of them did not have the habit of building cities, but this is actually a misunderstanding. Even the nomadic Huns and the Turkic Empire, through archeological excavations in the 20th century, found the cities built by these two nations on the Mobe steppe. Different from the cities formed by the southern nations around agricultural production, the purpose of the nomadic peoples to build cities is mainly to store a large amount of wealth and materials obtained through trade and war, and to attract businessmen from the surrounding areas to trade. Compared to the Han dynasty, which emphasized water irrigation and agricultural cultivation, nomadic cities paid more attention to political and commercial functions.

The Liao Dynasty, founded by the Khitans who originated in Northeast China, has both nomadic and agricultural characteristics. The ancestors of the Khitan people lived on nomads and fishing and hunting. In the expansion, they gradually conquered the settlement powers of the Northeast such as the Bohai State and absorbed part of the bureaucratic system of the Central Plains dynasty. In the early Liao Dynasty, the valley was mainly on the Xilamulun River suitable for agricultural production, and later occupied traditional farming areas such as eastern Liaoning and North China, making this new dynasty a nomadic-agricultural compound empire.

In order to integrate these two completely different production methods within the framework of the empire, the Liao Dynasty imperial family adopted a dual management model, namely, the rule of the Khitan by the state, and the Han by the Han system. By integrating the farming industry, the Liao Dynasty was able to overcome the economic vulnerability of the single-steppe nomadic empire, relying on the large amount of grain reserves obtained from agricultural production, and the empire strengthened its resilience against natural disasters and foreign invasions. As a result, the Liao Dynasty was able to head south and confront the Northern Song Dynasty for a century. The Han nationality in the south could no longer repeat the feats of sealing the wolf and dwelling.

We set up a tripod and camera under the tower. The clouds in the sky have dispersed, and a round moon is hanging in the night sky. Under the light of the brilliant galaxy, the tower of Baita reflects the milky silver light. The gust of wind blowing from some direction, shaking the bells under the eaves of the tower, the crisp and long ringing echoed on the grassland for a long time.

Castle
The clock is past zero, and we are driving on the Hoa First Class Highway in heavy rain.

Thick raindrops hit the body, and a dark red lightning cut through the sky in the distance, like a fork-shaped current wrapped in cotton. At this moment, the scenery on the grassland became clear. The high-voltage power transmission tower on the left looks like a huge skeleton with flesh and blood, standing on the grassland; the road is like a steep ladder on a hillside and disappears at the end of the ridgeline. Just as I passed the highest point of the pass, the car rushed out of the rain belt, and the scene in front of me was a little unclear:

At the end of the line of sight, tall chimneys, power plant cooling towers like giant biscuit barrels, and high-voltage transmission towers stood neatly on the grassland like soldiers. Aviation collision avoidance lights flashed on top of these artificial buildings, forming a line above the horizon Shining Milky Way. The smoke from the chimney slowly lifted into the sky, reflected by the street lights, like a flowing cloud emerging from the ground. Around the brilliantly lit city, there is endless darkness, like a mirage that emerges from the grassland out of thin air.

This is Huolin Goule, an industrial city that stands deep in the grassland.

Huo Lin refers to a place of rest and recuperation in Mongolian, while Guo Le means river. Fifty years ago, it used to be a peaceful grassland, with the Huolin River flowing around. One winter in 1973, local herders found fragments of Jin Dynasty pottery in an abandoned old city nearby. Unearthed in the same cultural layer as these cultural relics, there are several unburned pieces of coal. This caught the attention of the mining exploration team stationed here. Livestock manure collected from grasslands is the main fuel for Mongolian fires for heating in winter. Under the conditions of ancient inconvenience, transportation of coal from long distances is obviously quite uneconomical. The coal found in the cultural layer of the ancient city undoubtedly implies the existence of a large shallow coal field nearby.

At 8 o’clock the next morning, the rain stopped all night, and a large white cloud floated in the sky. Haoye and I drove west of Huolingoule City. After crossing the road-side fence, we hiked towards the valley not far. At the end of the river valley is a huge grassy mountain covered with grass. The ridges are flat and neat, which seems a bit out of place on the flat grassland. After crossing a shallow trench, a low earth wall appeared in front of it. A mottled Wenbao monument is half buried in the grass. This is the ruins of the ancient city known as Huolingoule Jindai No.1 Frontier Fort.

The early 13th century, the end of the Jin Dynasty. After more than two decades of tribal war, Tonger Tiejin and Tiemuzhen succeeded in unifying the various tribes of the Mongolian plateau by force, and was elected as Genghis Khan. The Mongolian empire rose like a dazzling star on the grassland. Different from the dynasty system built by professional bureaucrats in the southern farming nations, the unified Mongolian empire structure is closer to a loose alliance composed of many Mongolian tribes. Tribal leaders are obliged to pay taxes to Khan and provide troop supplies, but at the same time, Khan also needs to use rewards to maintain the loyalty of each tribal leader. As a result, the Mongol Empire at the beginning of reunification immediately began a war of conquest against neighboring countries. The Mongolian iron ride on the grassland is not only to show the strength of the Mongolian Empire, but also to obtain land and wealth through war, and to maintain the cohesion of this new tribal alliance.

As a neighbor to the western and southern borders with the Mongolian tribes, the Jin Dynasty began to encounter increasingly fierce attacks from the Mongolian plateau. This dynasty founded by the Jurchen has been in existence for nearly a century, and has completed a great change from nomadic fishing and hunting to settling in the Central Plains. The abundance of material life and long-term peace have caused the combat effectiveness of the Jin Dynasty’s army to decline rapidly, and the nation that came down from the horse is no longer brave. The Jin Dynasty’s army was unable to repel the Mongolian cavalry’s attack in the field. The territory also retreated from the desert to the Xing’an Mountains and Yanshan in a round of attacks. In the last 30 years of the Jin Dynasty, the Jurchen who lost her field advantage built a series of Tunbing fortresses along the Da Xing’an Mountains. She hoped to use the mountains and solid cities to resist the continuous invasion of the Mongols. Is one of them.

This side fort is an ordinary fortress with a square shape, with a circumference of more than 800 meters, and there is no town. The rammed-earth city wall, once as high as 5 meters, was gradually turned into a loess of loess on the grassland under the continuous erosion of summer rain. The half-height thatch was swaying in the wind over the remnant wall, which was less than one meter. 8 centuries of bloody killings are a thing of the past. In the military fortresses that once stood by, colorful wild flowers are blooming on the walls of the past.

The drone slowly rose to the high altitude, and we found out that behind the tall mound at the end of the river valley, there was actually a giant open-pit coal mine-this is the stripped surface soil that was stripped during the open-pit mining. Waste mountain.

On a winter afternoon eight centuries ago, the soldiers looking over the side of the fortress finally realized that the convoys that had delivered supplies on time would never appear on a distant horizon. They didn’t know that the capital city Yanjing, thousands of miles away, had been captured by the Mongolian army. The emperor fled to Kaifeng with his ministers, and no one remembered these garrisons still stationed in the northern part of the empire. Panic spread recklessly in the fort, and the soldiers fled from the fort and went their separate ways. In a panic, a brazier used for heating was kicked over in the snow, and a few unburned coals flashed a dark red light.

It was also on a winter day in 1973 that a herdsman hid in the ruins of the Jindai castle to avoid the sudden snowstorm. An inadvertent archeological discovery, several pieces of crushed coal used by soldiers on the edge of the river 800 years ago to heat up, has actually led to the discovery of the largest open-pit coal mine in the Mengdong area. Is this a coincidence of history, or is it God’s will?

People who discovered the coal mine that year did not forget its credit, and the pit mining area avoided the ruins of the ancient city. From a bird’s eye view of the drone lens, the ancient city is like a small piece of tofu, surrounded by three sides in the slag mountain of an open-pit coal mine, so small. Heavy machinery chokes black stones deep in the formation. The conveyor belt crushes the fossils formed tens of millions of years ago into powders and sends them into the coal-fired boilers of thermal power stations. The steam turbines rotate rapidly, passing electricity through high UHV transmission The tower teleported to the far south. In the past, Jinge Iron Horses and Pastoral Pastoral Songs became yesterday’s elegy. Today, the Huolin River has become a heavy industrial city rising on the grassland.

A gust of wind swept across the ancient city, and for a moment, I seemed to hear a low sigh coming from the ancient city.

Fence and Great Wall
Someone beckoned at us along the highway. Hao hesitated for a moment, braked on one foot, and stopped beside the man.

“Hey, the motorcycle is broken,” said the man, “can you hit me some way?”

This is a middle-aged man in his forties, with a layer of loess covered in hair, and his face tanned by the strong sunlight of the grassland. He wore a faded camouflage suit and leaned against a red motorcycle parked by the road.

“Get in the car. There are seats in the back row. There are empty water bottles on the floor. You have to clean up.” Grandpa nodded and pointed behind him.

“Thank you.” The man rubbed his hands, pulled the door of the car, and sat in the car.

“Does it matter if the motorcycle is thrown here?”

“It’s okay. You can’t meet a few people here all day,” said the man.

The noon sun burned the grasslands, and the heat waves transpired on the highway. The lush grasslands on both sides of the highway have disappeared a few days ago, and sparse tumbleweed flower arrangements are generally dotted between the bare land. Occasionally in the low-lying places, the yellow sand rolled up by the wind piled up here, forming small sand dunes.

We were driving on the grassland north of Xilinguole League. The moist water vapor blowing from the Pacific Ocean traversed the mountains and ridges all the way through the Songnen Plain and Daxinganling Mountains. The annual precipitation here is less than 200 millimeters, which is a transition zone from temperate grasslands to desert grasslands.

“Are you here to help the poor?” The man sitting in the back row suddenly said.

“No. I went to Gacha, 5 kilometers ahead, to find the Great Wall of the Jin Dynasty.” I replied. Gacha means Mongolian village.

“My family lives there,” the man said.

“So clever. Master, can you take us to the Great Wall near your house?”

“Okay. You guys have helped me a lot. I have to thank you.”

We chatted. The masters in the back row are local Mongolian herders and speak Chinese fluently. The master said that Mongolians have been taking Chinese classes since elementary school, and most of the people in Gacha have no problem communicating in Chinese. I heard the master’s Mandarin with a Northeast accent, and after asking, I knew that he had been working in Tongliao for some time in the past few years.

“The Great Wall you said is not far from my ranch. The old people call this the boundary wall. But nothing looks good. The wind is getting stronger these days, and the wall is almost buried in the sand.” The yellow steppe outside. “There was less rain this spring and none of the grass turned green.”

In most people’s inherent impressions, the Great Wall is almost synonymous from Shanhaiguan to the Jiayuguan Great Wall. However, as early as 400 years before the construction of the Great Wall began, the Great Wall built by the Jurchen had stood deep in the grasslands of Inner Mongolia. The direction of the Great Wall of China in the Jin Dynasty basically along the Daxinganling and Yanshan, from the Nenjiang region of Heilongjiang Province all the way to Dongsheng in the Hetao region of Inner Mongolia. If the Great Wall is the boundary that separates the farming dynasty from the northern nomadic empire, then the Golden Great Wall is the line of defense established by the northern minority dynasty to resist the attack of another nomadic empire.

After entering the 20th century, people began to attach importance to the repair and protection of the Great Wall and tourism development, giving it more cultural connotations and symbols. But deeper in the grassland, the Jin Dynasty Great Wall, which has a longer history, was gradually buried in the grass, slowly weathered by the wind and sand, and slowly poured by the rain. Here is a corner forgotten by mainstream history.

“You see, the Great Wall is not far away,” said the master, pointing to the fence in front.

It is very different from the Great Wall built on the top of the mountains in the impression. The Great Wall of Jin Dynasty in front of us is just a ridge on the grassland that is slightly higher than the ground by one meter, extending from the northeast to the southwest, disappearing at the far end of the grassland. .

We stand under the city and can see a horse face protruding from the wall every 70 meters to form a cross fire. There is a shallow ditch below the earth wall. The folks and soldiers who built the Great Wall used the excavated loess to ram the city wall, and the place used to collect the soil was used to form a trench that blocked the cavalry under the city wall. Now that the city walls have been weathered, several goats stand on top of the city walls and stare at us curiously. Overlooking from the sky, shallow trenches, low earthen walls, and weathered horse faces resemble a long pearl string necklace, leading silently to the sky.

On the left and right sides of the Great Wall are endless wire fences. Due to the frequent use of cars, the road between the fence and the fence has been crushed by the wheels into bare bare ground. After the car has passed, the rear of the wheels is rolled up and rolled into yellow sand, like a piece of sand. Swimming sand snake. Looking down from the sky, the vast pasture is divided into small checkerboard squares by a fence with a wire fence. Each square is a pasture contracted by a herdsman. Grazing on his pasture. The endless grasslands are now cut into pieces like farmland in the south. Not far from the fence, a group of goats bowed their heads to eat the vegetation on the grassland, and looking out, the grassland’s green was too scarce.

“This was not the case in the pastures.” The master lighted a cigarette and said with a sullen expression, “In the past, we were all grazing together, the water source and the well were shared, and the herds were transferred every few days. Never let livestock eat on the same grass for too long.

“Since 1996, we have double-contracted grass and livestock. Pastures have been divided into small plots of several thousand acres and distributed to each family’s heads. Each family has pulled up a fence and barbed wire, and the animals have been on a small piece of grass all day. Turning around to graze, the turf has all broken down over time. ”

“When I was a kid, there could be dozens of grasses on the grasslands in summer, and colorful wild flowers were everywhere. Now you see, there are pig hairs on the grasslands, or just wolf needles. Sheep eat these grasses and have their mouths tied broken.”

Salsola is an annual drought-tolerant plant growing in desert grasslands. This large area of ​​vegetation appears to be a precursor to severe grassland degradation. Looking around, clumps of ragweed appeared on the grassland like flower arrangements, and several goats vainly searched for the few grass roots in the sand.

“In the past, when the pasture was experiencing drought, we could also drive livestock to other pastures to run Haot. People graze on pastures, and their hearts become selfish. ”

The master sighed and stopped talking.

The three of us were standing on a fenced pasture like a cobweb, and the whirlwind in the distance rolled up the loess and whirled around the remnant wall of the Great Wall.

Sunset over Jinlian River
In the last hour before sunset, we finally reached the Zhenglan Banner.

The car was sprinting on Provincial Highway 308. Shepherds and herds grazing with their heads down were grazed on the window. The herdsman rode on a motorcycle and drove herds with a whip. Nowadays, shepherds who rarely ride horses and sheep can be seen. Compared to horses that need to be carefully looked after, motorcycles that do not need to eat grass are obviously more popular with locals. Dazzling industrial products are rapidly changing the living habits of grassland peoples.

The grassland finally restored its long-lost greenness. From time to time, strange circular farmland appeared on both sides of the highway, like a circle drawn neatly on the grassland by a compass. This is a water-saving agricultural technology introduced to the grasslands in recent years. The groundwater is pumped out by a pump and then irrigated by a sprinkler. Most of the crops grown are corn, which is used as feed for captive livestock in winter. Modern technology has made it possible to use groundwater resources for stable agricultural production. For thousands of years, grasslands that have belonged to nomadic peoples for the first time have appeared in arable land. The herdsmen on horseback once drove tractors and became farmers on the grasslands. The boundaries between farmers and herdsmen are no longer as clear-cut as in the past.

The pasture outside the window was gradually away, and a large wetland on the beach appeared in front of them. The mountains of Daisy appeared in the far north. The long-awaited Jinlianchuan has finally arrived.

The evening wind blew across the grassland, and there was a hint of coolness in the air. At the time of the summer season, we still couldn’t appreciate the heat in the south. We suddenly understood why the emperor of the Yuan Dynasty used it as a summer capital. Master Wu Batu, a Mongolian driver who is driving a tour bus, is in his forties, maybe he wants to get back the feeling of riding a horse on the grassland when he was young. The song passed quickly before our eyes.

“I was grazing here when I was young. She ran cattle, horses, and sheep, but not too many sheep. Sheep hoofs are too sharp, which will damage the grass, which is bad for the pasture.” Master Wu Batu said. In the opposite lane, a tourist car of the same color came towards us, and the two drivers rang the horns to say hello. “That driver was also we checked. After the scenic spot was appraised as a World Cultural Heritage, no grazing was allowed here. All the horses in my family were sold to others. We changed to become drivers.”

After 2012, Jinlianchuan was listed as a World Cultural Heritage. In order to protect the site, the surrounding 1,700 square kilometers of pastures have been included in the no-grazing area and buffer zone. The herdsmen who previously set up the pasture here were relocated and left the grasslands they were familiar with. Driven by technological and commercial interests, today’s Inner Mongolia grassland is no longer a single pastoral economy, and industry, agriculture, and commerce are rapidly marching into the grassland. I think of the huge open-pit coal mine next to Huolingoule Jindaibian Fortress, the lush sprinkler corn field on the Zhenglanqi grassland, and the driver master who turned from a herder to an employee in front of me.

Jinlianchuan used to be the seat of the Shangdu in the Yuan Dynasty. In the middle of the 14th century, Meng Gehan died in Diaoyu City when he attacked the Southern Song Dynasty. After a short and fierce civil war, the Mongolian Empire split into four big Khanates. The ancestor of the Yuan Dynasty, Kublai Khan, established the Yuan Dynasty in East Asia and the Mongolian Plateau, and set the capital (now Beijing). The Yuan Dynasty royal family accustomed to living in the grassland could not stand the heat of the summer season in North China. Therefore, in the current Xilinguole League, Duolun County built a large-scale capital city, forming a dual capital inspection system with Yuan characteristics. When the summer heat arrives in April every year, the royal family and brigade of the Yuan Dynasty escorted the men from the capital to the upper reaches of the Inner Mongolia grassland, one hundred miles away, to avoid the heat. After spending the summer in the cool Jinlianchuan River Beach, I returned to Dadu (Beijing) for winter around September. When Xia went to Qiu, the emperors of the Yuan Dynasty were like Houwu—traveling between the grassland and the Central Plains.

“All the palaces and rooms of the palace are gold-plated and beautifully decorated. One side of the palace faces the city, the other faces the wall, surrounded by walls on all sides, surrounding a square of 16 square miles.”

On a summer day in 1275, Marco Polo, 21, saw sweating Kublai Khan in most cities and wrote this text in his travel notes. The large arable land and villages commonly found in the Central Plains are not visible around the city wall of Shangdu. It is a huge city built on the bank of the steppe riverbank. In its heyday, in addition to the Yuan Dynasty royal nobles who came to summer and summer, there were a lot of accompanying people Officers and escorts. Shanghai is not only the political center of the Yuan Empire in the summer, but also a transportation and business hub with many post roads.

The 13th-century Mongolian conquest eliminated many countries that once stood on the Silk Road on land. The unified Mongolian empire made the long-distance intercontinental trade between Eurasia smooth again. After paying the business tax equivalent to about 10% of the total price of goods, European businessmen can flow between the stations patrolled by the Mongolian army along the way. Commodities and technologies from the east and the west spread along the prairie commercial roads. On the eve of the 16th century’s great sailing era, the Mongolian empire on the prairie has quietly started the prelude to globalization.

Entering the Shangdu site from the south of the city, the wide gap in the wall suggests that it was the Mingde Gate where the emperor of the Yuan Dynasty entered Shangdu. Despite the 7-century rain erosion, the remaining walls are still 8 meters high, showing us the magnificent regulations before the city was destroyed. We raised a drone in front of the Yutianmen site at the entrance of Miyagi. As the altitude climbed, a large grassland city slowly appeared on the monitoring screen: The outer city of Shangdu has a circumference of more than 8000 meters and is close to a square. . Surrounded by mountains in the north of the city, the winding lightning river flows slowly in the south of the city, sparkling against the setting sun, and the brilliant sunset smears the sky to the west. Jinlianchuan, where the capital is located, is named after the golden lotus that blooms all over the river beach. On the banks of the Lightning River, the setting sun and blooming nasturtium dyed the wetlands of the riverbank to a golden yellow, and the entire river valley seemed to burn in the setting sun.

“Be careful, don’t fall off the boardwalk.” Master Wu Batu appeared behind me. He pointed to the golden sea of ​​flowers in front of his eyes. “There is a swamp nearby.”

“Thank you, Master.” I said.

“I rode a horse around here when I was young, and I accidentally fell into it.” His eyes looked at the grassland far away. On the scenic highway, a battery sightseeing car is parked on the roadside.

“Well. My family is out of horses,” he said.

At dusk, I stood on the site of Da’ange in the center of Miyagi and looked south. The huge ruins of the city were covered with wild grass and wild flowers opened warmly at the foot of the palace’s platform. The lonely city wall stands on the bank of the lightning, telling the flowing rivers of the past 7 centuries before Wanbang came to Korea. The line of sight extends indefinitely along the central axis of Shangdu, across the endless steppe, and across the rolling Yanshan Mountains. I seem to see another great city lit at the end of the horizon, calling me in the north of the North China Plain.