My latest column for China Daily was just published in the paper. It’s titled The magic of finding an ancient civilization in your backyard. Here’s an excerpt:
It’s one thing to see history on display behind a museum glass and another to experience it right beneath the soles of your hiking shoes, just as my husband Jun and I did one afternoon while wandering the hills within sight of the family home in rural Zhejiang.
That ridge, one of a chain of undulating hills that encircled the village, looked like every other we had climbed before. It had the usual assortment of bamboo, pines and rhododendrons in its canopy. And the sinuous trail we followed swept through the same tangles of bracken ferns, satintail grasses, mugwort and clover we always walked through on our hikes.
But at a small clearing on top, we discovered an astonishing marble historical marker, etched with Chinese characters designating the fertile ground beneath our feet the site of an ancient civilization that flourished 4,000 to 5,000 years ago.
How could such a seemingly ordinary ridge hold such an extraordinary secret? The marker offered scant introduction to the civilization, beyond that it thrived during the Neolithic Age and occupied the crest of that hill.
Still, even this historical crumb left behind by a team of archeologists thrilled me more than gazing upon one of China’s national treasures in a museum, because we had stumbled upon it right in the backyard of the village where my husband grew up.