How old is Beijing

How Old is Beijing

Beijing, with a history spanning over 3,000 years of urban development, holds a prominent place in China’s historical landscape. Its evolution from the ancient city of Ji to its present status as Beijing encapsulates a narrative rich in cultural transitions and dynastic changes.

Over 3000 Years of Beijing’s Urban Origins

Near the Guang’anmen area within Beijing’s Western Second Ring Road stands a Han white jade pillar inscribed with the words “The Start of Beijing, at that Time Only Zhou, Named Ji.” This pillar, erected in 1997 to commemorate Beijing’s 3040th founding anniversary, marks the city’s origin as Ji. Historian Hou Renzhi supported the idea that Beijing’s roots trace back to Ji, asserting that an early settlement existed even before recorded history. This settlement lay between present-day Guang’anmen and Lianhuachi, marking the earliest version of Ji City.

While there are varied opinions regarding Beijing’s precise origin, most accept its history of over 3,000 years of urban development. Some archaeologists suggest an even earlier establishment – the ancient city of Yanguo during the Western Zhou dynasty, potentially predating Ji City. They argue that the ancient city’s construction dates back to the Shang dynasty, and subsequent Zhou rulers inherited and utilized it. Analyzing burial customs, accompanying items, and bronze inscriptions from Yanguo’s archaeological sites, scholars like Tian Jingdong and Li Hua propose that these might be remnants of Shang dynasty descendants’ burials.

Over 800 Years as the Capital

Beijing served as the capital under twelve different dynasties – Ji, Yan, Former Yan, Great Yan, Middle Yan, Liao, Jin, Yuan, Ming, Daxun, Qing, and the early Republic of China. In a history spanning over 2,000 years since the Warring States period, Beijing functioned as the capital for more than 1,000 years. The confirmation of Beijing’s capital status dates back to the establishment of Zhongdu during the Jin Dynasty in 1153 AD. Through the eras of Yuan’s Dadu, Ming’s Beijing City, Qing’s Beijing City, the early years of the Republic of China, and present-day Beijing in New China, the city boasts a capital history of over 800 years.

Despite its lengthy history as a capital city, the formal use of “Beijing” as an administrative region name is relatively recent, spanning less than a hundred years.

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