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Tianzhushan

Date of Submission: 30/01/2015
Category: Mixed
Submitted by:
National Commission of the People's Republic of China for UNESCO
State, Province or Region:
Qianshan County, Anqing City, Anhui Province
Coordinates: N30 35 56 - 30 47 41 E116 21 04 -116 31 29
Ref.: 5992
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Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party

Description

Located in Qianshan County, Anhui Province, Tianzhushan has both pleasant ecological environment and profound historical culture. It is a large mountainous landscape, dotted with granite peaks and caves, waterfalls and springs, which is the most beautiful granite along Tan-Lu fault zone. Tianzhushan is rich in geoheritage such as mammalian fossils and an ultrahigh pressure (UHP) metamorphic belt of eclogite, an unusually dense rock important for driving convection within the solid Earth. Tianzhushan has profound cultural landscapes with a long history. It is the cradle of Hui Culture. Xuejiagang Culture discovered in Xuejiagang site is the only Neolithic culture in Anhui province and the origin of ancient culture of Anhui province. The Cliffside stone inscription recorded the inscription art for 1200 years. Sanzu Temple has an extremely important status and influence in the Tianzhushan religious culture. The nominated property is the area where he first long narrative poem Peacocks Flying Southward took place.

Total area of the property is 338.02 km2, including 225.3 km2 as its buffer zone.  The nominated property is divided into two parts. The northern part is granite Landform Park, with the same boundary as Mount Tianzhu scenic area planning area, an area of 102.72 km2. For the southern part, UHP metamorphic belt, paleontological fossils and XueJiagang site, an area of about 10 km2.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

Criterion (ii)The Cliffside stone inscription recorded the inscription art for 1200 years

The Cliffside stone inscription in the Cultural Park of the Valley Stream, a National key cultural relics protection unit, has large quantities of stone carving with long time span. During 1173 years (822 -1995), the inscriptions cover all dynasties, including Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming, Qing, and the Republic of China to contemporary times. In each dynasty, there are 2 inscriptions at least and 109 inscriptions at most. The series of stone inscription in such successive generations is rare in the world. The carvings were made by many authors especially celebrities, showing rich contents and diverse genres, as well as various chirographic and splendid art. It is rare and valuable culture landscape. It is called literature art museum of the Past Dynasties and valuable information for the research of ancient Chinese calligraphy art, sculpture art and historical figures.

Criterion (iii): contain a series of exceptional archaeological sites

Tianzhushan has profound cultural landscapes with a long history. These cultural landscapes and majestic natural landscapes add radiance and charm to each other. Some cultural relics, historic buildings and relics have great scientific research value, archaeological and aesthetic value from the perspectives of history, arts, science and aesthetic appreciation. Now there are 2 national key cultural relics protection units, 6 provincial and municipal key cultural relics protection units and 33 county key cultural relics protection units, which are all precious cultural heritages.

Protection unit Xuejiagang site is the Neolithic sites with the most abundant relics in Anhui province and at the same time, an important ancient cultural relic of middle and lower reaches in Yangtze River. Unearthed cultural relics are richest in the second and third phases of Neolithic Age, divided into production tools, living tools and decorations. Production tools are mainly stoneware, the blade is sharp with flat symmetrical shape through accurate grinding, and couples of holes are made smooth. The production of pottery mainly makes use of wheels and handwork as well, some are made exquisite with high amazing level of craft. There are nearly 100 pottery balls with a small ball in the hollow, 1-10cm of diameter, and the ball surfaces were carved stripes of Chinese characters and geometry shape, which are rare in China. The most representative potteries are: flat pot, duckbilled tank, flat basin-shape tripod, etc, in particular, stone-knives with holes (1-13 holes) are rare in the world.

Sanzu Temple has an extremely important status and influence in the Tianzhushan religious culture. Its history directly reflects the rise and fall of Tianzhushan religion, with a high research value. The architectural style and level are also valuable in the study of architecture.

Criterion (v): Xuejiagang Culture

These Neolithic relics from Xuejiagang site are significantly different from the archaeological cultural characteristics in the surrounding and have their own development sequence. It has been named “Xuejiagang Culture” by the archaeologists. Xuejiagang Culture is the only Neolithic culture in Anhui province and the origin of ancient culture of Anhui province. The discovery of this site provides abundant material data for the study of the primitive culture of middle and lower reaches of Yangtze River and the relationships among various cultures in Yellow River basin. This site has significant archaeological value, culture and art inheritance value, scientific research value and tourism economic value, which is helpful for knowing the long history of civilization in China.

Criterion (vi): directly and tangibly associated with major historical events, ideas and literature works 

Important intangible cultural heritage project “Peacocks Flying Southward” is the first long narrative poem in the history. With very high literary value, it is the masterpiece of ancient works and has higher customs and historical value, which can present the political and social life at that time, especially the living conditions of women. According to historical records, in late Eastern Han dynasty, the government office of Lujiang was just located in current Qianshan County, where the pathetic love story that Peacocks Flying Southward tells took place.

Criterion (vii): contain areas of exceptional natural beauty and aesthetic importance

Tianzhushan granites were formed in Mesozoic period. They have experienced subduction and collision process of plates in Indosinian period and tension and collapsed process after collision, belonging to post-orogenic granites. Tianzhushan displays almost all the main features of granite landscapes in the world, odd peaks, grotesque rocks, caves and canyons, in particular, the landscape of Mysterious Valley, formed by landslides and collapsed towers of granite, can be called a great wonder of the world. The formation of the granite landform has a close relationship with the movement of Tancheng-Lujiang fault zone since Mesozoic period. Tancheng-Lujiang fault zone extends 2400 km within China, and Tianzhushan has the most beautiful granite geomorphologic landscape along the Tancheng-Lujiang fault zone. The granite geomorphologic landscape within Tianzhushan scenic area is a precious natural heritage through long-term geological functions, which is of great scientific research value in geology and geomorphology, tourism value, ornamental and aesthetic value. Granites were influenced by weathering and erosion and the uncanny workmanship of nature carved Tianzhushan whose main body is granite into current majestic, elegant and mountainous granite geomorphologic landscapes.

Tianzhushan has unique granite peak clusters geomorphologic landscape, including 45 peaks, 17 ridges, 16 crags, 18 cliffs, 86 stones, 53 caves, etc, with majestic, grotesque and elegant natural landscape.

Criterion (viii): Classic place in Sulu-Dabieshan Ultra-high-pressure (UHP) metamorphic belt

Tianzhushan is located near the recombination part of Dabieshan UHP metamorphic belt and Tan-Lu fault zone. UHP metamorphic belt is located in southern area of Tianzhushan, and the world-famous Dabieshan UHP metamorphic belt is the largest in scale, the deepest in denudation, the best outcrop and the most abundant UHP minerals and rock combinations in the world. The discovery of diamond-bearing eclogite and coesite are respectively the first case and the third case in the world.

After the discovery of coesite-bearing eclogite, geologists from 20 countries and regions came to Tianzhushan, and almost all scientists studying on UHP metamorphic belt made investigation here. According to incomplete statistics, five international symposiums about Dabieshan UHP metamorphic belt were held, and above 500 SCI articles about Dabieshan UHP metamorphic belt were published, so Tianzhushan scenic area becomes a classic place of Sulu-Dabieshan UHP metamorphic belt, a hotspot for the tectonic research of international continental plates, one of the best places for the research of continental dynamics and a world-famous research base of UHP metamorphic belt.

Criterion (viii): World-class fossil site and the birthplace of Asian mammals

The southeast side of Tianzhushan is Qianshan Basin, controlled by Tan-Lu Fault Zone. The western basin is Dabieshan high mountainous area formed by ancient metamorphic rocks, the southeast side is strip-shaped low mountains formed by Paleozoic and Mesozoic stratums, and the inner basin developed a set of red detrital rocks. More than 50 species of mammalian and reptile fossils that are all mid-late Paleocene fossils were discovered in more than 50 Paleocene fossil sites, with a history of 60 million years. Newly found fossils which have been given names by experts are: Heomys orientalis, Anhuichelys tsienshanensis, Archaeolambda tabiensis, Sinostylops promissus, Diacronus wanghuensis, Obtususdon hanhuaensis, Mimotona wana, Agama sinensis, Anictops tabiepedis, etc, and Wanshuina lii found in 1991 is the first bird fossil in the stratum of Paleocene period. There is a special Paleocene fossil exhibition room in Qianshan County. Tianzhushan is internationally recognized as the most important place of Paleocene vertebrate fossils and the birthplace of rodents.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

Systematicness and integrality

The granite of Tianzhushan is made up of different types of granites formed in early and main stages, which has formed a typical cognate magma evolution series. The series has unexceptionable systematicness of evolution and integrality of composition.

The geological evolution of Tianzhushan experienced three stages, Dabie-Jinning cycle, Indosinian cycle and Yanshanian-Himalayan cycle, which is a long and complicated evolution process with systematicness and integrality.

The granite peak cluster of Tianzhushan shows three-level of ancient denudation plane along the vertical direction in geomorphology. The first level is at the altitude of 900-1000m, the second is at 750-800m, and the third is at 400-500m, in which plane of denudation, granite peak cluster is well preserved. There are many waterscapes, such as spring, pool and waterfall, and caves in the third layer. Grotesque peaks and rocks characterize the second layer. And there are many majestic peaks on the first layer.

The special geological and geographical natural environment and the superior climate conditions provide favourable environment for the plants, so Tianzhushan keeps a rational and integrality ecological system, and many scenic spots in Tianzhushan are still covered by primeval forests, such as Back Mountain and Da Longwo. 

Representativeness

Tianzhushan lies at the junction of the Yangtze plate, North China plate and the Dabie Orogenic Belt. It has experienced multi stages of tectonic movements of Jinningian period, Indosinian period and Yanshanian and Himalayan periods, etc. A large range of this area has been uplifted and eroded by the NE and NW faults, vertical and horizontal joints, diagonal joints, “X” joints and primary joints of the granite rocks, and then the typical landform of Tianzhushan was formed.

Rareness

The granite peak clusters composed the unique landscape of Tianzhushan. There are 45 famous peaks contributing to this spectacular peak clusters landscape. There are varieties of rugged rocks with different vivid and life-like image figures, which are dotted everywhere.

Due to the outcrops of orogenic belt and a large number of UHP metamorphic rocks, the UHP metamorphic belt became one of the best sites to study continental dynamics and a hotspot to study international continental plate tectonics in recent years.

Tianzhushan HP-UHP metamorphic belt is the largest in scale, deepest in denudation, best in exposure and most abundant in UHP mineral and rock combinations in the world, which is one of the rare HP-UHP metamorphic belts in the world.

Nearly 50 species of ancient vertebrate fossils in the middle and late period of Paleocene were found in this place, which has aroused great reverberation around the world, especially the discovery of Heomys orientalis, which affirmed the relationship between Heomys orientalis and the origin of rodents(rats), and it is also affirmed that the origin of more than 1700 rodents(rats) in the world, including current mice, is Tianzhushan, Anhui Province, China.

Comparison with other similar properties

Comparison with other ultrahigh pressure metamorphic belts

All around the world, 29 ultrahigh pressure metamorphism belts containing coesite, diamond and other Ultrahigh-pressure and high-pressure metamorphic were discovered (until 2008), among which 11 were in China, 18 were at abroad. In China, those are distributed in Qinling, Dabieshan, Sulv, Caibeiyuan, Nanaerjin, Beiaerjin, Beiqilian, Qiangtang and Songduo in Tibet, Nanjiabawa, Southwestern and Northern Tianshan and in Xinjiang and Northern Hebei. At abroad, those are distributed in Western Alps of Italian, Norway, Kazakhstan, Switzerland, Northern Mali, Makbal, Central Sulawezi, Maksyulov Complex, Bohemian Massif, Variscan Massif Centra, Minas Gerais, Nonth Victoria Land, Ladakh,  Woodlark Rift.

Compared in 29 global exposed Ultrahigh-pressure and high-pressure metamorphic belts, the Sulv-Dabieshan orogenic belt is internationally recognized as the world’s largest (30000 km2), the deepest exhumed, the best exposed ultrahigh pressure metamorphic zone with most varied combination of ultrahigh pressure minerals and rocks until now. Moreover, the discovery of coesite in the Sulu-Dabieshan orogenic belt was the third case all around the world and the discovery of diamond in eclogite is the first case of the worldwide metamorphic rocks.

Compared in China’s 11 Ultrahigh-pressure and high-pressure metamorphic belts, Dabieshan ultrahigh pressure metamorphic zone is the earliest one discovered in China (Xu,1987;Wang,1989;Ok,1989;Xu,1992). In 1987, Xu Zhiqin discovered coesite in the Dabieshan orogenic belt (Xu, 1987). In 1991, Xu Shutong reported the first particle diamond in the Dabieshan ultrahigh pressure belt was found in the eclogite of Xindian and marble symbiosis (1991;Xu,1992). In 1992, Zhai Mingguo reported the jadeite quartzite of Dabieshan ultrahigh pressure belt. In 1993, Li Shuguang reports that the ultrahigh-pressure metamorphism of Dabieshan eclogite occurred in the Indo-Chinese epoch.

Classic outcrop of Dabieshan ultrahigh pressure metamorphic zone was distributed in Tianzhushan. Among those,Bixiling eclogite was the largest and the first place to discover coesite. Xindian was the first place to discover particle containing gold pomegranate pyroxenite. The world’s largest jadeite quartzite belt was exposed in Pailou-Changpu. So, Tianzhushan is the classic place for ultrahigh pressure metamorphic belt.

The global comparison of the granite landscape

Comparison of Granite types and tectonic background

For granite types, different scholars put forward different classification method. The generally accepted was Type I and Type S proposed by Chapell. On this basis, Pitchel developed into type I, S, M, A according to the tectonic background. Type I was generally produced in island or active continent margin. Type S was formed in the orogenic environment of intracontinental collision. Type M refers to the mantle source granite. Type A is alkaline granite, formed in an extensional environment of inter-terrigenous post-orogenesis. Granite of Type M and Type A is very rare.

Granite is widely distributed on earth but differs in tectonic background and types. In America, the cordillera orogenic belt and the Andes granite are mainly related to plate subduction and collision. The granite type is type I. Granite in Europe was mainly formed in two periods, one is the Caledonia stage, and the other is the Hercynian stage. They are caused by the collision orogeny. The granite type is type S but there is also a small amount of collision after the formation of the type A granite. In some ancient land area, such as Canada, Australia and Africa, granite was mainly formed in the Precambrian. The granite type are mainly type I but also have a small amount of type A. In Asia, such as Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, the formation of granite is related to plate subduction of the Pacific Ocean, rock type is given priority to type I with a small amount of type I. Compared with other areas, in our country, different granite type and tectonic background differ from each other. Orogenic belt in the west has experienced plate subduction, collision and drawing process after collision, the corresponding process of formation of the granite from Type I-S-A. Magmatic activity in eastern area focused on the Mesozoic, but the region environment at that time is very special. It is neither a typical continental margin environment related to the subduction of the Pacific plate and different from the typical continental interior environment with nothing to do with plate subduction, but belongs to the transitional type between the two. Granite type has type I, S, A. Due to the evolution of the eastern and the properties of basement, granite type is different in areas.

In terms of Tianzhushan, the area is situated at the east of the Dabieshan ultrahigh pressure metamorphic zone and Tanlu fault location. After plate subduction, collision and pulling and extension process, the forming granite shows the transitional characteristic between Type I and S. Tianzhushan special tectonic background and granite type laid the foundation for the formation of special landscape.

The comparison of granite landform

Granite is the most exposed igneous rock. But scenic areas like Tianzhushan that is purely composed of granite are few. Most of scenic areas are composed of other types of rock. From a global perspective, the granite related geological parks are mainly distributed in the United States and few are in other countries. magmatic activities in Yanshan Period were intense in eastern China, correspondingly, there are quite a few granite scenic areas related to Yanshan Period, up to 15.

Geological parks or scenic areas related to granite:

Australian and the Oceania: Australia (Girraween,Queensland), New Zealand (West Cape District,Fiordland).
Europe: Ireland(Burren), Italia(Sila Massif,Calabria), Austria(Blockheide--Eibenstein  National Park,Waldviertel).
Africa: Zaire (Garamba National Park)
America: USA(Yosemite,California; Sequoia and KingS Canyon,California; Acadia,Maine; Glacier National Park,Montana; Denali,Alaska; Glacier Bay National Park,Alaska)
Asia: China (Feihuangshan in Liaodong, Qianshan in Anshan, Laoshan in Shandong, Panshan in Tianjin, Huashan in Shanxi, jigongshan in Henan, Jiugongshan in Hebei, Tianzhushan, Jiuhuashan, and Huangshan in Anhui, Hengshan in Hunan, Sanqingshan in Jiangxi, Tiantaishan in Zhejiang, Tianmushan and Qingyuanshan in Fujian) , North Korea (Jingangshan).

The comparison of global granite scenic areas

Compared with other granite scenic areas, Tianzhushan, with the particularity of its tectonic position, has similarities with other landscapes but at the same time has its unique characteristics.

Tianzhushan is located in the low latitude 30 degree area and formed in the Mesozoic period. Its tectonic setting has experienced plate subduction, collision and tension collapse process, so it is post-tectonic granite. The granite type is between ype I and S. The formation of granite landscape is closely related to the activity of the Tanlu fault zone. Tanlu fault zone is 2400km in China. It can be said that Tianzhushan is the most beautiful granite scenic area that the Tanlu fault belt has bred. It basically contains all the granite scenic landscape in the world, such as type of column, tape, dome, bundle, odd rocks and caves, etc, rather than one-two types of them. Spectacular caves and landscapes are formed by the accumulation of the rare granite collapse, such as the mysterious valley, which is unique to Tianzhushan. Like other areas, there are a wide variety of plant resources in Tianzhushan, which is called natural botanic garden. Tianzhushan has a colorful history and culture and is one of the few natural and cultural heritage sites in China.

The comparison of fossil specimens at home and abroad

Fossil specimens are mainly found in the Palaeocene Wanghudun and Doumu Formation and characterized with the occurrence of abundant mammalian fossils. Since 1970, the experts from Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, cultural relics workers in Qianshan County, geological science and technology workers have discovered more than 50 species of vertebrate fossils in more than 20 locations, including 11 species of reptiles, 1 specie of birds and 42 species of mammals, of which 12 species belonging to 6 families of mammals are from the Lower Member of Wanghudun Formation, 21 species belonging to 11 families are from Upper Member of Wanghudun Formation, at least 11 species belonging to 8 families are from Doumu Formation. In the fossils, there are three species named after “Oriental”, which are Oriental Heomgs, Oriental Harpyodidae, Oriental skunk. Two species were named after “China”, China Morganucodon and China Flying Dragon. Ten species were named after “Danbieshan”and “Anhui”. 17 species were named after “Qianshan”and the mountain in Qianshan. The discovery of the fossils added new content to the palaeocene fauna and greatly enriched people’s knowledge about the history of the development of the early Cenozoic mammalian. The significant regional characteristics of the paleocene mammals that are found in Qianshan comparing with those in other areas shows that the paleocene mammals have litter communication with those in other areas, basically in a state of isolation.

At present, it is North America that has the largest number of discovered Paleocene mammalian fossils and the further related studies abroad. But the Paleocene mammalian fossils discovered in Qianshan County are obviously different from those found in North America and Europe, and they have a unique status in the study of the evolution of the early Cenozoic mammals because of the local characteristics of Asia. In other Asian countries, only Mongolia has abundant discoveries of Paleocene mammalian fossils, however, the age of which was the latest of Paleocene, so they were significantly later than those discovered in Qianshan, Anhui Province and other parts of southern China. Meanwhile, in the composition of its fauna of the fossils found in Mongolia, there are not large groups of the original old type, either, which has a remarkable difference from the Paleocene fauna in Qianshan. In domestic, in terms of the Paleocene fauna which can be compared in the same period, those found in Qianshan, Anhui Province, Nanxiong, Guangdong Province and Chijiang, Jiangxi Province are the most distinguished. And those found in Qianshan has unique significance in the biological evolution compared with the other two places.

The most significant fossils discovered in Qianshan are Heomys orientalis (Li, 1977) and Mimotona wana (Li, 1977, M. robusta Li, 1977), which represent the ancestral types of rodents (rats) and lagomorphs (rabbits) respectively. Heomys orientalis was named from “the origin of rodents will be solved just like the orient rising sun”. Since 1977, Li Chuankui, who had announced Heomys orientalis and Mimotona wana, was concerned widely by the experts at international academic conference in Pittsburgh of USA in 1980, Paris of France in 1984, Kyoto of Japan in 1992 and New York of USA in 1993. Many experts at home and abroad agreed conformably that Heomys orientalis and Mimotona wana have provided reliable fossil evidence for the origins of rodents and lagomorphs after in-depth discussion, and further confirmed that rodents and lagomorphs are of the same origin, both of which originate from Asia area represented by Qianshan, Anhui Province. The fossils discovered from the other areas of China later supported this conclusion.

Among the mammalian fossils discovered in Qianshan County, quite a few are the unique species in Asia, such as mesonychidae,Pseudictopidae,Lycaeidae,Eurymylidae and Mimotona wana. The abundant number and high degree of differentiation of these fossils show that these animals were prosperous on the Asian continent. In addition, there are some species related to the origin of ancient taxa that have been extinct, such as Benaius qianshuiensis. There used to be ancient ungulates represented by Altilambda and Archaeolambda tabiensis.

Except mammals, Eoalligator huiningensis, which is considered to have a closer genetic relationship with current Yangtze alligator, probably became the progenitor of the Chinese alligator. Wanshuina lii is one of the very few Paleocene avian species in the world, which is the earliest representative of the known corncrake suborder of Gruiformes as well as the only representative of Gruiformes of Paleocene.

The comparison of cultural heritage

The Xuejiagang site, about 5500 years before present, represents a new type of primitive culture in the middle and lower reaches of Yangze River. Compared with other Neolithic culture, it is not only unique in China, but also in other parts of the world.

Tianzhushan is Chinese ancient Southern Mountain. It is considered as one of the birthplaces China Zen. The Five Great Mountains are the subjects of imperial pilgrimage by emperors throughout ages. China Zen is the product of Buddhism developed in China. Therefore, the Tianzhushan is the place with the combination of the Zen culture and ancient Great Mountains culture.

Japanese tea ceremony is famous in the world, while it was originated from China. The principles of tea ceremony—harmony, respect, purity and tranquillity—were actually originated from a Zen scholar named Liu Yuanfu of Tianzhushan in the Song Dynasty.