Part Two: Beginning of the City (221BC – 589AD) 城市开端
Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) – Nanyue County 南越郡
With the unification of feudal China in 221 BC by Emperor Qin Shihuang, Nanyue 南越 was assimilated into the southern territories of the empire that included Sichuan (known as Bashu 巴蜀) and Guangxi (known as Baiyue 百越). But the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) was short-lived. What came next was nearly 400 years of Han Dynasty.
In 206 BC, Zhao Tuo 赵陀 (240-137 BC), a Qin general stationed in the area taking advantage of the civil war that ensure after collapsed of the Qin Dynasty, declared the area the Kingdom of Nanyue 南越国. He made himself the emperor with the capital at Panyu 番禺. A museum in Guangzhou is dedicated to his successor and grandson Zhao Mo 赵眜 (176-125 BC).
Han Dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD) – Panyu County 番禺县
The Nanyue Kingdom was assimilated into the Han Dynasty by Emperor Liu Che 汉武帝 刘彻 in 111 BC, but Zhao Tuo was allowed to keep Nanyue as a vassal state. Part of Nanyue became what was known today as North Vietnam after the takeover by Han. In Vietnam, the rulers of Nanyue are referred to as the Triệu dynasty. The name “Vietnam” (Việt Nam) is derived and reversed from Nam Việt, the Vietnamese pronunciation of Nanyue.
Han Dynasty can be divided into Western Han (202 BC – 9 AD) and Eastern Han (25-220 AD) because of a coup d’état in the middle. The earliest documented mention of Panyu County 番禺县 dated back to Eastern Han Dynasty 4th year of Xiping 汉熹平四年 (135 AD).
In the 1980s, many Eastern Han Dynasty tombs were discovered and excavated in Nantou 南头, Tiezai Mountain 铁仔山, Xiantouling Ridges 咸头岭, etc. around Shenzhen.
The multiplication table discovered from an Eastern Han Dynasty tomb in Nantou was an indication of the social-economic development in Shenzhen during that period.
Among the relics discovered was an interesting piece of glazed porcelain called “Huzi” 虎子. This particular piece was found in a Three Kingdoms (220-280 AD) tomb with a large open mouth looking like a ox looking skywards. The word is still out if this was a water vessel or chamber pot.
Eastern Jin (255-420 AD) and Southern Dynasties (420-589 AD) – Dongguan Prefecture 东官郡
Many brick-structured, well-constructed tombs from the Eastern Jin (255-420 AD) and Southern Dynasties (420-589 AD) with burial chamber decked with celadon porcelain wares were found around Shenzhen, a reflection that the social economy in Shenzhen at that time was relatively well-developed.
In the 6th year of Xianhe Period of Eastern Jin Dynasty 东晋成帝咸和六年 (331 AD), Dongguan Prefecture 东官郡 and six counties including Bao’an County 宝安县 were established to house the diaspora from the Central Plains escaping the civil war. The tombs excavated in Shenzhen belong to the period demonstrated that local culture was almost in accordance with that of the more developed Central Plains.