Da Qin

Da Qin: reference to the eastern Roman province of Syria.

Location: 65 kilometers southwest of Xian China. Lat. 34.26222, long, 108.9377778. 2 mile walk up from the village of Lu Guan Tai

Reputed to be the site of a Nestorian community during the Tang Dynasty and the location of the Nestorian Monument

The archaeological site at Da Qin reveals six stone bases for pillars indicating a building that lies on an east-west axis. It appears to be a portico structure. If it was part of a church it may have been a summer worship area typical of many sites in the Tur Abdin area in present day southwest Turkey in the upper Tigris River region. These type of structures were described by Gertrude Bell at the beginning of the 20th century and later by Andrew Palmer in his book Monks and Masons on the Tigris (1990).

There are two other excavated sites. One lies 50 yards to the west of the main site and another one 50 yards northeast of the Pagoda. The main site is 10 yards west of the Pagoda.

The site to the far west of the Pagoda is fairly uninteresting except for the presence of clay pipe shards that seem to feed into the area. The site seems to have been abandoned by the excavation team and fruit trees have been planted in the area.

The site to the northwest of the Pagoda is far more interesting. It looks to me like two monastic cells of the type I have seen and studied for years in the Tur Abdin Region. A cell at the monastery of Sala is almost identical to these cells once occupied by Mor Daniel. I have written extensively about these monastic habitations in my books Monks of Mesopotamia and Tracks on the Mountain of the Servants. Also the cells described in the poem about Mariam of Qidun are of the same pattern. In the hagiographies about the monks of Mor Augin who came from Egypt and settled in the Tur Abdin region in th 4th and 5th centuries there are many descriptions of the cells in which these saints occupied. Most of them had no doors and only a small window to pass food and notes back and forth. Monks would live in these cells for years at a time.

monastic cells?

If these are monastic cells it would lend evidence to the suggestion by Martin Palmer that this was once a Nestorian monastic community.

in the main excavation pit: portico area


About daleinchina

Chongqing University of Arts and Sciences.
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