Shaanxi province, located in the People’s Republic of China, is preparing to apply for UNESCO world heritage listing for its Tongwancheng, the world’s only ruins that the ancient Huns left behind, reported.

Zhang Tinghao, director of the Shaanxi Cultural Relics Bureau, announced that they wanted to see the only remaining city of the ancient Huns, Tongwancheng, to be proclaimed as a UNESCO world heritage site. “The ruined town will give important clues to the study of the Huns who disappeared nearly 1000 years ago,” said the director.

The ruins of Tongwancheng was discovered a few years ago, and it was a great sensation among archaeologists. The ruins of the city has been served as a source of many valuable findings and scientific discoveries about both the origin and the culture of Huns.

According to Chinese media, the national heritage park, which will include an underground museum, will help preserve local Chinese culture and attract tourists to the area in north-western China.

Shaanxi province urges China to declare Tongwancheng a UNESCO world heritage site, because the ancient city has been under the threat of desertification. The 1 600 year-old Hun city is the only Hun cultural heritage site that has been preserved for posterity in relatively good condition. The State Council already designated Tongwancheng as a cultural relics under top state protection in 1996.

Tongwancheng is located about 500 kilometres from the provincial capital city of Hsian. According to Chinese experts, Tongwancheng is the largest city ever built by a minority in the Chinese empire, which has remained relatively intact.

The Huns were a nomadic group of people who are known to have lived in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia between the 1st century AD and the 7th century. Contemporary literary sources do not have a clear consensus of the Hun origin, but several scholar claim that they first lived in the territory of China.

“The Huns played an important role in the world history, especially in the shaping of the European nationalities and the development of European history,” said Lin Gan, a professor specializing in the study of Huns at the Inner Mongolian University.

Chinese were so afraid of Huns that the Great Wall was built in order to protect the Chinese state and empire against the Huns’ raids and invasions. Later, Huns invaded and conquered several Chinese territories, but suffered a defeat against the troops of the Han dynasty in China, and, as a result of the battle, they became separated.

After having been separated, the northern branch of Huns started to wander westward until reaching the Volga River. In 374 AD, Huns migrating westward exterminated the country established by the Alanis, raising the curtain of the Nordic nomadic nationalities’ aggression of the European farming nationalities. It is just under the pressure of the Huns that the Goths invaded the Roman Empire and even reached the city gate of Rome. In the fifth century, the Huns, after crossing over the Danube River and the Rhine River, entered into the western Europe and established the Hunnic Empire led by Attila, which was one of the most feared enemies of the Western and Eastern Roman Empires. The branch which stayed in Asia settled down and established the city of Tongwancheng in 419 BC.

Tongwancheng was the main capital that stood on the other side of the Great Wall of China. The city was largely of wood construction and had very thick outer walls which were made white with white clay earth and powdered rice. The city is made up of three main parts: the palace, where the ancient imperial palace stood, the inner part, which housed important government buildings, and the outer part, which was where the town’s common people took up residence.

“As a nationality, the Huns disappeared, but their legacy stayed alive throughout history. Many scholar believe that today’s Hungarians are direct descendants of the ancient Huns,” Wang Shiping, a research fellow with the Shaanxi Historical Museum, told Xinhua press agency. According to the press agency, the opinion was echoed by some Hungarian researchers as well. They believe that their homeland is closely related with the descendants of the Huns.

The cultural customs of the Huns still exist in many parts of the world. For example, Hujia, a musical instrument once peculiar to the Huns, now is popular in Mongolia, Russia, and North China’s Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region and Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

based on the article of
translated by Gábor Hajnal


  1. Attila the Hun was also known as Flagellum Dei , which means the ‘Scourge of God.’ With him at the lead, the Huns were one of the biggest threats faced by the Roman Empire. Although he was famously defeated by the Romans under Flavius Aetius and their Visigothic allies under Theoderic I at the Battle of Catalaunian Plains, Attila the Hun and his warriors were still a threat to the Western Roman Empire.

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