The Jiaohe Ancient City was declared as one of the first national key cultural relic protection units by the State Department on March 4th in 1961. The Jiaohe Ancient City is located on a willow leave-like island in the center of a river in the Yaernaizi Valley, about twelve kilometers west of the Turpan City of Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.
According to the legend of the West Area of the Book of Han, the Near Cheshi Country ruled Jiaohe. The river water was distributed in different directions surrounding the city and therefore named Jiaohe, meaning ‘confluence of rivers’. The Jiaohe Ancient City is the capital of Near Cheshi Country, one of the thirty-six countries in the west region in the ancient times. The existing site belongs to an architectural cluster from the Tang Dynasty and is the earth construction site with the largest existing area and best preserved state in the country.
Jiaohe Ancient City has a long history. There are traces of human activity in the Jiaohe Basin from the late Paleolithic Period. Those early locals belonged to the Gushi people of the Chinese ancient peoples in the northwest, who were later called Cheshi. In the 2nd Century BC, during the fighting between the West Han Empire and the Hun, Jiaohe, located where the Near Cheshi Country on the south foot of the Tianshan Mountain was, became the outpost base of the Han Empire in military conflict with the Hun.
The”Cheshi Contest” happened sometime between 108 BC and 62 BC. In the third year of the Yuanfeng Period of Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty (108 BC), Cheshi was broken by Zhaoponu, a General of the Han Dynasty, and the Han Dynasty finally won the battle. In order to strengthen the domination over the Jiaohe Area, Zhenji was commissioned to be stationed in Cheshi by the Han Dynasty in 67 BC.
In 60 BC a capital protecting government offices was built in Cheshi by the West Han Dynasty to be in domination of all the states in the western region. Since that time Turpan has been included in the territory of China. In the 14th Century Hederhuozu, who had converted to Islam, started a holy war and Jiaohe City was destroyed by fire in the war.
Jiaohe Ancient City was located on the side of cliffs. Among all the city gates, only the east gate is still in relatively good preservation. The gateway and the holes for the establishment of the doors are still vaguely recognizable. Soldier hiding places were built inside the city near the gate and were favorable for both defense and attack.
There were mainly three parts inside the city, the religious district, the authority office and the residential part. There was one avenue crossing the city in the north and south direction that was considered to be the axis. All the buildings inside the city were earth constructions, except one large brick and tile building. Some the buildings are rooms dug in the earth, some are yards built over the earth, while others are walls made by piled up earth. Most of the houses are two storied, with one story above ground and one under ground. Neither windows nor doors can be seen from the avenue and you can not see the gate until you cross the alley. Even the magnificent brick and tile house has two stories, with one story under ground. According to research, this is very likely to be where the Anxi capital protecting office of the Tang Dynasty was located.