New Delhi, Dec.4: A 4,000-year-old city, said to be larger than the Forbidden City in Beijing, has been unearthed on the east coast.
Archaeologists believe this could be the oldest kingdom in Chinese history.
According to The China Daily, the Liangzhu ancient city ruins - found in Yuhang county of Zhejiang Province - can be traced back at least 4,300 years, and cover an area of 2.9 million square meters with the city walls 4-6 meters in width.
The first discovery was made in June last year when apartment buildings were to be built in Putaoban Village of Yuhang.
Archaeologists were called in because the village is part of the Neolithic Liangzhu Culture protection zone, which is centered on Yuhang and extends to present day Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Anhui and Jiangxi provinces as well as Shanghai.
Under a patch of rice field, archaeologists found a 40-meter-wide ancient ditch built of hardened earth, in which were large amounts of pottery shards.
Liu Bin, a researcher at the Zhejiang Archaeological Institute, said when archaeologists dug a deep hole on the eastern bank of the north-south ditch, they were surprised to find a large area built of hammered soil and pebbles.
Further excavations showed that the ditch was a canal outside the city, and the area to its east was the remains of part of the city wall.
The walls extended 1,500-1,700 m from east to west and 1,800-1,900 m from north to south. The city covers an area of 2.9 million sq m, 200,000 sq m more than the Forbidden City.
It is the largest Neolithic city discovered in China, said Yan Wenming, a professor at Peking University.
"The city could have been the capital of the Liangzhu Kingdom," he was quoted by the Hangzhou-based Metropolitan Express News as saying.
Further evidence is needed to prove the city was the capital of the kingdom, he said.