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China's Oldest Post Office Found Along Silk Road

Xinhuanet 2002-04-16 11:39:18
   LANZHOU, April 16 (Xinhuanet) -- A letter written about 2,000
years ago and never delivered has provided evidence of China's
oldest post office at a historic site near the famous Dunhuang
Mogao Grottos along the ancient Silk Road.
   The letter written on a piece of silk, 18 cm long and 8 cm wide,
has been found in the Xuanquanzhi Ruins in northwest China's Gansu
   The writer of the letter sent his greetings and wishes from the
frontier of the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220) in the remote western
region to his friend in an inland area of China.
   In the letter, the writer described the hard life in the border
area and asked his friend to buy him some goods and send them to
   The letter is so far the best preserved personal letter from
the Han Dynasty, according to archaeologists.
   The Xuanquanzhi Ruins are located at an important pass of the
Silk Road. Ruins of beacon towers built during the Han, Jin and
Qing dynasties over more than 1,000 years can still be found near
the Xuanquanzhi Ruins today.
   The excavation of the ruins was conducted from 1990 to 1992.
Their discovery was selected as one of the top ten discoveries in
China during the last decade of the 20th century.
   Experts have unearthed wooden slips, paper and silk used to
document the work of the local postal service, transportation
activities, tolls, vehicles and other information that enables
them to better understand the history and geography of the Han
   Ruins of buildings and stables were also found. Experts say
Xuanquanzhi was a comprehensive outpost for the postal service,
official order deliveries and reception of guests more than 2,000
years ago.  Enditem
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