Archeologists in in central China’s Hubei province have found remains of an iron casting workshop along the Yangtze River, dating back to the Eastern Zhou Dynasty (770 BC-256 BC) and the Qin Dynasty (221 BC-207 BC). The foundry remains, the first known from the Yangtze River, were unearthed at a highway construction site in Yaojiawan in Qiantang village of Xishui county.
An excavation layer 150-250 cm thick contained numerous red pottery sherds and fragments of molds, red soil furnace walls, cinders, slag, and various forms of casting tools, according to Wu Xiaosong, curator of the Huanggang Municipal Museum. He noted that iron was first widely used in central China in making farming instruments and weaponry. Researchers from Beijing University of Science and Technology and the Chinese University of Science and Technology found that the molds were used in making everyday iron appliances such as kettles. Archaeologists are exploring residential and burial sites around the iron casting workshops, seeking further information on ancient iron casting process and crafts.
Ruins of mines have been found in Hubei province and its adjacent Hunan province. This discovery disclosed where the plentiful ore resources in the area finally went and the iron products might have been shipped through the Yangtze to other parts of China, said Li Taoyuan, a noted researcher with the Hubei Provincial Archeology Institute. Archeologists have already excavated a wealth of iron casting relics along the Yellow River in northern China.
Source: People’s Daily 5/27/2003