Rejuvenated museum offers a cutting-edge insight into Liangzhu's ancient civilization

Visitors from all over China have swarmed to the Liangzhu Museum, after it reopened last week, to absorb a fascinating insight into 5,000 years of ancient civilization.

Liangzhu Museum has reopened after 10 months of renovation. The exhibits in the venue mainly display the new discoveries from the last decade. 

Visitors from all over China have swarmed in their thousands to the newly designed Liangzhu Museum, after it reopened recently following 10 months of renovation, to absorb a fascinating insight into 5,000 years of ancient civilization through innovative high-technology methods.

The 909-hectare Liangzhu Archaeological Site is located in Hangzhou’s Yuhang District.

As the first Neolithic city unearthed along the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, Liangzhu is preparing for inclusion on UNESCO’s world cultural heritage list in 2019. And renovation of the museum was high on the criteria list to support its application.

Following the upgrade, multimedia facilities are now used to showcase artifacts in a more visually friendly way. Climate changes, ceramic making procedures, city wall construction and the creation of primitive symbols are displayed in an easy-to-understand digital way, which has been a big attraction for both parents and children.

Visitors can also play VR games to experience the joy of unearthing antiques in the virtual world. A 10-minute IMAX short film, telling stories of ancient Liangzhu ancestors, is also a highlight, and there is a screening every half an hour. The impressive film provides a bigger visual impact and makes people feel as if they are traveling back over 5,000 years.

The newly added exhibits are another interesting feature of the museum’s overhaul. Around 400 antiques, from Zhejiang Museum, Zhejiang Institute of Archeology and Yuhang District Museum, are on display along with 200 items from the Liangzhu Museum.

The site has been under excavation for more than 70 years. During the last 10 years, fruitful mining results have enriched the collections of these museums, and the exhibits display these new discoveries from the last decade.

The exhibition hall is divided into three parts. The first section showcases its location, development, environment, production and living. Liangzhu proves that ancient China could date back as far as 5,000 years, alongside civilizations in ancient India, Egypt and Babylon.

Varied shapes and sizes of jadewares are used to designate hierarchy. Around 400 pieces of antiques from Zhejiang Museum, Zhejiang Institute of Archeology and Yuhang District Museum are shown along with 200 pieces from Liangzhu Museum. 

The Liangzhu culture stretches to present-day Shanghai and the northern Zhejiang Province. They share cultural similarities, especially in artifacts, burial methods and tombs. It shows that Liangzhu was not simply a tribe but a mature civilization.

Crockery vessels and agricultural tools, from Majiabang, Songze, Haochuan and Guangfulin archaeological sites, reflect on how our forefathers from those areas were absorbed and influenced during that era.

These vessels were used for food and wine. They are made of clay and decorated with ornamental patterns. The firing techniques are considered to be revolutionary for that period of time.

The second segment of the exhibition hall is designed for the water storage system, unearthed in 2015. It is believed to be the earliest and biggest water system of its kind found anywhere in the world.

The ancient city of Liangzhu has emerged as a settlement of 3 square kilometers at the core, and 100 square kilometers of surrounding agricultural area. The water storage system connected 11 dams and mountains to help the city withstand floods.

Unlike ancient Egypt, India and Babylon, Liangzhu was nestled amid wetlands used for rice cultivation. Due to clay and wood construction materials, only a few foundations of the ancient settlement remain today. Nonetheless, the water conservancy system testifies that the ancient Liangzhu civilization also had a hydraulic project like its counterparts.

The last section of the venue exhibits jade articles that distinguish Liangzhu from any other civilizations. Liangzhu had a rigid ritual system that laid the foundation of social order and stability. Ancestors used varied shapes and sizes of jadewares to designate hierarchy.

Liangzhu-style jade artifacts are characterized by finely etched motifs. Among the most exciting finds were yucong, or cylindrical jadeware, engraved with patterns of mythical creatures. The shape symbolizes the orbits of sun and moon in Liangzhu culture.

Yucong was discovered in only upper-class tombs. They are believed to link human beings with immortals, ghosts, land and heaven.

Another signature jade article is yuyue, an axe-shaped jadeware that epitomized power and authority. In oracle bone scripts, the character “珙” (king) evolved from the shape of yuyue. In modern Chinese, the character literally means king.

In recent years, more and more museums have developed cultural and creative products as the industry is flourishing in China’s cultural sphere. Liangzhu Museum is no exception. It cashes in on the trend and designed a series of stationery, accessories, postcards and souvenirs, which turn out popular with visitors.

Liangzhu Museum has reopened after 10 months of renovation. The exhibits in the venue mainly display the new discoveries from the last decade.

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