Two Thousand Year Old Tunnel Found in Shaanxi Province, China

October 25, 2008 7:00 am Last Updated: October 26, 2008 8:35 am

During reconstruction of the Han Dynasty’s Xian Gate in Changan City, Shaanxi Province, the entrance to a 4-meter deep tunnel was found. The tunnel, buried for nearly 2,000 years, is intact and is filled with mud. An archaeologist said that the tunnel might have been built as an escape route for the emperors.

According to the Huashang newspaper, on the morning of October 17, an archaeologist, Wang, said that the Xian Gate, the gate closest to the Weiyang Palace (a palace complex, located near the city of Changan [modern day Xi’an]), was an entrance that was likely used by the royal families. He said there were only two reasons for building such a tunnel under an entrance near the palace. One would be to enable the royal families to flee the palace, and the other would be to provide an underground sewer.

It is amazing that the entire two-meter-high archway was built with blue bricks; and the gap between each blue brick is less than one mm. The tunnel has not been excavated so its length is not yet known.

Wang said that the bricks might crumble if they were disturbed, and that the mud that fills the tunnel is supporting the tunnel walls.

Wang also indicated that Xian Gate is a city passage in the western side of the south city wall of the Han Dynasty’s Changan City. It is 1,830 meters from the eastern gate, and 1,500 meters from the western corner of the Changan city wall. Xian Gate was found in 1957, and consists of three gates, each 14 meters apart. Xian gate is only 50 meters from the palace, which means it would not be an entrance used by common people. It would most likely be used only by the emperors and their families.