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Relic site in China is 1,400-year-old royal temple

IANS | Beijing |

A relic site in China's Hebei province has been confirmed as a royal temple built over 1,400 years ago, archaeologists said on Tuesday.

The base of a wooden pagoda, which archaeologists believe was built between 553 and 577, was unearthed in Linzhang county, Xinhua news agency reported.

"The pagoda was part of Dazhuangyan Temple," said He Liqun, from the Institute of Archaeology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Dazhuangyan was a royal temple in Northern Qi Dynasty (550-557). "During that dynasty, emperors followed Buddhism, and there were 40,000 temples, as well as 2-3 million monks and nuns," said Huang Hao, editor-in-chief of the local chronicles.

A tomb with an epigraph linking it to the Dazhuangyan Temple was found in the 1990s. Archaeologists searched the area surrounding the tomb and began excavation of the temple site in 2012.

Archaeologists also found a stone box with crystal, jade, agate and amber, which they believe to be a Buddhist burial artefact.