Early History of Chongqing
The earliest evidence of human activity in Chongqing has been traced back to the Early Paleolithic Period, around 2 million years ago. The first people in China appeared in Wushan county, Chongqing.
In 1985, a part of a jaw with two molars and some bone fragments with artificial processing marks was excavated by a team of Chinese scientists. The find was unearthed in Longgupo, Zhenlongping Village near the Miaoyu town in Wushan County, close to the Three Gorges. They were since dated back to two million years ago.
The discovery of the Wushan Man is one of the most important archeological finds in China in the 20th century. It is the earliest human fossil found in China which reveals human development and helps fill the gap of first human fossils. It is of great scientific value for studying the origins of humans and the development history in the Three Gorges.
The Wushan fossil is dated 300.000 years earlier than the Yuanmou Man from Yunnan, previously considered the oldest fossil in China. This means Chongqing occupies a vital position in the history of human development in China.
From the Paleolithic era to the Neolithic era, numerous historical sites have been discovered in Chongqing, along the Yangtze and Jialing river basins. Discoveries have been made in Fengdu, Shizhu, Wushan, and Hechuan, counties as well as Jiolongpo and Kiangjin districts.
The History of the Ba Kingdom and How Chongqing got its Name
During the Xia and Shang dynasties (nearly 2070-1046 BC), the three gorges region was the main rock salt-producing area in China. As salt was one of the essential hard currencies in ancient times, it gave birth to the early Ba kingdom in Wushan region.
In the 11th century BC, the kingdom of Ba established here and lasted for about 800 years. Jialing River was known as “Yushui” in ancient times, so Chongqing is called “Yu” for short.
316 BC, Qin State built Bajun City (Current Yuzhong District) after it defeated the State of Ba. And that is the beginning of Chongqing in history. Qin Dynasty divided its territory into thirty-six counties, of which Ba County was one.
In 1189, Zhao Dun (Emperor Guangzong of Song Dynasty) ascended the throne, and hereafter he was titled, Prince Gong. Delighted by this “double happiness,” which was called “Shuang Chong Xi Qing” in Chinese Pinyin, he promoted Gong Prefecture to “Chongqing Fu.” That is how the city got its present name.
The Diaoyu Castle: A Legend in Chongqing
In the late Song dynasty, a summer of 1259, Mongolian army invaded important cities in Sichuan, and Chengdu was in danger. In October, the Mongolian army started the battle of The Siege of Diaoyu Castle in modern-day Hechuan district, Chongqing to intercept the reinforcements from Chongqing to rescue Chengdu of Sichuan.
Ghengis Khan, the leader of the Mongolian Empire, also known as the “whip of God,” was hit by an arrow and died during the war. (There are conflicting accounts of his death). After the death of their king, Ghengis’ commanders and brothers in Europe and Asia returned home. The throne was now empty and the fight to assume control began, leaving the Song dynasty to continue for another two years, changing the situation at the Eurasian battlefields.
In 1261, the Mongolian army entered Chengdu, and the army of the Song Dynasty retreated to Chongqing. To bolster their defenses, the Governor of Chongqing expanded the city, extending north to the Jialing river banks, west to present-day Jiefangbei. The city’s expansion laid the groundwork for Chongqing’s layout up to the Ming and Qing dynasties. The army of the Song Dynasty and the Diaoyu fortress held the mountains and resisted the Mongolian invasion for 36 years until the fall of the Song Dynasty.
Recent and Modern History of Chongqing
In the 16th year of Qing Emperor Guangxu’s reign, in 1980, Chongqing officially opened its port. On March 1st the following year, the Chongqing Customs was founded near the Chaotianmen pier.
In 1929, Chongqing was officially established as a municipality, and in 1937, Chongqing became the wartime capital of China during the Sino-Japanese war. Chongqing remained the capital of China for eight years and five months. During the war, Chongqing was heavily bombed, and every year, the air raid sirens go off on June 5th in memory of the attacks. But the people of Chongqing made significant contributions to the victory with their indomitable spirit despite the horrors they faced.
The Southern Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and the Office of the Eighth Route Army in Hongyan Village, Chongqing upheld the overall unity of the Chinese Communist Party, and the Kuomintang to win the war of resistance against Japan. This became the birth of the “Hongyan Spirit”.
On June 18th, 1997, Chongqing was made a Direct-control municipality under the Chinese government. Separating it from Sichuan province and becoming one of only four direct-controlled municipalities in China, the other three are Beijing, Tianjin, and Shanghai.