The Yangshan Quarry Megaliths
The Yangshan Quarry (from the Chinese “Yángshān bēi cái”, literally meaning ‘Yangshan Stele Material’) is an ancient stone quarry near Nanjing.
It was used for many centuries as a source of stone for buildings and monuments of Nanjing, and today it is preserved as a historic site.
The quarry is famous for the gigantic unfinished stele that was abandoned there.
Three unfinished stele components remain in the Yangshan Quarry to this day, only partially separated from the solid rock of the mountain.
The actual dimensions and weight estimates of the steles are as follows:
- The Stele Base, 30.35 m long, 13 m thick, 16 m tall, 16,250 metric tons.
- The Stele Body 49.4 m long (this would be the height if the stele were to be properly installed), 10.7 m wide, 4.4 m thick, 8,799 tons.
- The Stele Head, 10.7 m tall, 20.3 m wide, 8.4 m thick, 6,118 tons.
According to experts, if the stele had been finished and put completely together (meaning installing the stele body vertically on the base and topping it with the stele head), it would have stood 73 meters tall.
According to the accepted theories, the Yongle Emperor ordered the cutting of a gigantic stele, which was destined to the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum of his late father.
Three separate pieces were cut: the base of the rectangular stele (pedestal), the stele “body” and the “head” of the stele (crown).
After most of the stone-cutting work was done, however, the architects realized that moving such large stones from Yangshan to Ming Xiaoling, let alone installing them in an appropriate way, would not be physically possible.
As a result, the project was inevitably abandoned.
This theory, however, is debated by some researchers due to the fact that the Chinese engineers at the time were skilled enough to foresee the impossibility of moving such a stone and therefore avoid committing such a naive mistake.
For this reason, many believe that this ancient Chinese civilization actually had the knowledge and resources to lift and carry the stone.