After one year’s excavation, we finallyreached the climax moment—excavation of the underground chamber. We would neverforget that day, March 11th, 2001. We had many similar hardexperiences about the excavation of the underground chamber, but this time wasquite different. It was a live broadcast by the Film and Culture Channel ofZhejiang Television. This was our first to unearth the underground chamberunder the attention from audiences and surrounded by the cameras. We werelittle nervous, but full of confidence and calm. All works were followed by therules and regulations.
The first step of the excavation was tosling the huge stone on the cover plate. During the slinging of the stone, youmay be unaware that the windlass once did not work and the huge stone was inthe air. Luckily we underlay the stone with the highwire in time. Now when werecall the accident, I think, it could answer some questions at least. Thefirst is that we should make full preparation before the excavation, keepcalming and gather all efforts to handle the problem. The second is that therewas a certain rumor that this excavation was “designed and planned” for thelive broadcast. However, the accident proved that it was not true. The third isthat archaeological works are uncertain and unpredictable, which are the hardpart, but also the charming.
Theopening of the underground chamber
After moving the huge stone and cleaning,we could see the cover plate. It was made of limestone. And we used the steeltubes to pry it. Then it smashed into three pieces. Finally, after we removedthe pieces, the underground chamber was opened and the present people were allamazed at the cultural relics stored in the underground chamber. And theexciting moment was first time to be delivered through the television to theaudiences.
The cultural relics before a thousand yearswere finally reappeared with our expectation. Time flied and great figures inhistory were not existed any longer. But these cultural relics that wererestored by Qian Chu were kept well. And they told us the great and richhistory of the Wuyue kingdom. This moment — opening the sealed page of history,for the archaeologists was most happy. But this time we would share it withthousands of people. The old saying in China was that独乐乐不如众乐乐，meaning that after the sharing , our happiness would be enlarged andeveryone felt himself was happy.
Reappearingof the iron chest
After opening of the underground chamber,Leifeng pagoda became the “super star” attracting people’s attention. And themost attention was to open the iron chest. People were all curious what waskept inside .
It was decided to open the iron chest at 19o’clock on May 14th, 2001.
In the cave storeroom of Zhenjiang Provincial Museum, we cleaned therust outside of the iron chest and silk fabrics at the bottom. When allpreparations were done, we removed the lid and set it aside. Finally the ironchest was opened and we found a mini gold-coated pagoda inside.
Because water once leaked into theunderground chamber, there were full of rust at the bottom of the mini-pagoda.The mini-pagoda was made of silver and inside there was a gold coffin. This wascalled “sliver pagoda, gold coffin” by experts. And the hair remains thatQianchu worshipped were restored in the gold coffin.
The original Leifeng pagoda was builtin 977 by Qianchu, the king of the Wuyue kingdom. During the Southern Songdynasty, it was renovated. But in the Jiajing period of Ming dynasty (1555),the Leifeng pagoda was burn up and only left the brick body. The original onecollapsed on Sep. 25th, 1924. It became a heap of bricks and thediameter of the ruins was 55m,with a height of 9.5m. Thearchitects began to clean the ruins reaching the areas about 13000m³on Jan., 2001. And the undergroundchamber was found on Feb.15, 2001. The live broadcast of the openingunderground chamber was on May. 11, 2001. And a lot of ancient coins and 77 pieces of cultural relics wereunearthed.
1.The ruins of the leifeng pagoda
According to the excavation, we infer thatthe Leifeng pagoda has a very important value in the Chinese ancientarchitecture. The pagoda is not only huge in size, but also fantastic in designand craft. The original one includes 6 parts from inside to outside: the centerpart, inner walls, corridors, outer walls, outer wood corridor and foundation.The foundation is octagonal shape and made of hard reddish soils. Its height isabout 2m and the diameter isabout 38m. And the area istotally more than 1000㎡. Thefoundation is once covered with limestone plates where the Buddhism figurescaved. On the outer corridor there are 24 huge pillar stones with 1.2m long and wide, and 0.3m thick. From the location of thepillar stones, we can infer that the outer corridor is about 4.5m. The body of the pagoda is made ofthe bricks and octagonal type. Its diameter is 26m and the length of a side is 11m. Each side sets a door, totally 8 doors. The outerwall is 4.8m thick, and thecorridor is 2.2mwide. The inner wall is 3.7mthick and only sets 4 doors, namely North gate, South gate, West gate and Eastgate. The center part is also octagonal type. The foundation is paved with thebricks, which is about 1.5mthick. And the body of the pagoda is built on it. Now the remaining of thelower parts are about 3m-5m.
2.The location of the undergroundchamber
According to the excavation, theunderground chamber is located at the center of foundation. It is 2.6m below the ground and buried in thefoundation when it is firstly built. The underground chamber is a single roomand its four walls are laid bricks. The splice among the bricks uses the lime.The underground chamber is covered by a square plate, with 0.9m long and wide and 1.3m thick. Upon the cover plate there isa huge stone with a weight of 700kg.And the underground chamber is never stole and damaged in history.
3.The new pagoda is quite similarwith the original one in size. The main body of the pagoda is about 45m high and the foundation is 10m high. Together with the top of 16m high, it is totally 71m in height.