PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2019, Vol. 38 ›› Issue (11): 1684-1691.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2019.11.004

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Excavation and geographic location of the Tanpeng canal

HE Fanneng1, YANAG Chao1,2,*(), ZHAO Liang1,3   

  1. 1. Key Laboratory of Land Surface Pattern and Simulation, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Resources, CAS, Beijing 100101, China
    2. School of History, Capital Normal University, Beijing 100089, China
    3. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2019-04-23 Revised:2019-05-18 Online:2019-11-28 Published:2019-11-28
  • Contact: YANAG Chao
  • Supported by:
    The Special Program for Basic Work of the Ministry of Science and Technology, China, No(2014FY210900);The Chinese Academy of Sciences Strategic Priority Research Program, No(XDA19040101)


The "Tanpeng canal", also known as "Tianwei path" or "Xianrenlong", was canalized and dredged by Pian Gao during the Xiantong period of the late Tang Dynasty. It was located in the sea area near the Jiangshan Peninsula south of Fangchenggang City in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, and is an important part of China's Maritime Silk Road. However, its geographic location is still a fair subject of speculation. Based on historical records and other materials, the authors explored the historical background, development process, and geographic location of the canal, which is of great significance for clarifying the historical and cultural value of Tianwei path and its important role in the maritime silk road. On the basis of historical literature review and investigation of the geographic background, we demonstrated the historical background of the canal's excavation, development process, and geographic location. Our research shows that: 1) The location of the Tanpeng canal should be in the sea area outside the White Dragon Tail at the southern end of the Jiangshan Peninsula. The excavation process of Tanpeng canal was the clearing of rocks in the sea area south of the White Dragon Tail. 2) The purpose of the development of the canal was to provide the Tang army in Annan with continuous and stable logistic supplies. The excavation of the canal took place between the eighth and ninth years of the Xiantong period of the Emperor Yi Zong. 3) Based on this history, the reef on which Pian Gao' canal passed through should be named Tianwei path, and the Tanpeng ancient canal on the peninsula should be renamed Tianwei path stone relics.

Key words: Tanpeng canal, Tianwei path, geographic location, Jiangshan Peninsula, Tang Dynasty