The History of Luoyang

Luoyang and other parts of Henan Province were heavily populated during the neolithic era. However, little is known of the history of Luoyang between that period and the eleventh century B.C. When the Zhou King Wu established a temporary capital called Luo Ye near Luoyang. From the sixth century B.C. Luoyang suffered under the series of wars that took place in what was known as the Warring States period(475-221 B.C. ). A period of stability during the 5th ruler of the unified empire, Qin Shi Huang Di, established part of his armyat Luoyang in 221 B.C.

Liu Bang, first emptor of the Han Dynasty, moved the capital to Chang An (present-day Xian) in 206 B.C. but the court moved back to Luoyang once again in A.D. 25 under the eastern Han (A.D.25-220). The town underwent considerable development during this period; Buddhism was introduced and scholars were encouraged. The Great Imperail College drew more than 30,000 students from all over China. Considerable advances were made in astronomy, and paper was invented.

The capital continued to be an important center of learning during the Wei (220-265) and the Jin (265-316). The “chariot that pointed south,” the first compass was developed during this period.

Toward the end of the fifth century Luoyang become the capital of the Northern Wei, who had moved down from Datong in the north. Buddhism was flourishing, and one historical text refers to more than a thousand temples in the town. Work was begun on the Long Men Caves, and continued through the period of the Eastern Wei, the Western Wei, the Northern Qi the Sui, and the Tang.

The town was totally destroyed when the Wei were overcome by the Sui. A new site for the conquering Emperor was chosen near where the existing old town now stands. Only traces of the ramparts still remain. During the rule of the Sui (589- 618) great canal works were begun, the Southern Canal leading to Hangzhou and the Northern Canal to the outskirts of present-day Beijing Small canals had long been in existence, making it possible to travel from the Yellow River to the Yangzi and beyond but they Were not wide or deep enough to take the large freight barges. Some of these had a capacity of 500-800 tons, a size unheard of in the West at that time New roads were also constructed, the town flourished, and it was recorded that there were over 400 inns, many of which were used to house the large community of foreign merchants who flocks to the area. The inhabitants of Luoyang wife said to humor almost a million.