[Sian, Hsi’an ; formerly Chang’an, Ch’ang-an]
Capital of Shaanxi Province, China, and most significant as the nucleus of an archeologically rich area, the artefacts of which document the remarkable continuity of Chinese civilization.
Xi’an is located in the fertile loess valley of the Wei River, which was settled as early as Paleolithic times (before c. 6500 bc). For over 1000 years the capital of the empire was intermittently located there (see fig. ). From the 2nd century ad to the 14th it marked the eastern terminus of the Silk Route and hence was especially open to new ideas introduced from Central Asia. The city was most important during the Tang period ( ad 618–907; see fig. (e)), when its cosmopolitan and tolerant cultural life reflected its significance as a trading centre. With the fall of the Tang, the city was largely destroyed; although it was rebuilt in the 14th century (f), it never regained its cultural primacy....