CHONGQING, April 25 (Xinhua) -- Chinese archeologists have unearthed a 700-year-old remnant of an iron bomb from a Song Dynasty (960-1279) defense structure in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality.
They believe it is the earliest remain of a bomb found in China and even in the world.
The ruins of the Fanjiayan Song Dynasty government office was listed on China's top 10 archaeological discoveries in 2018. It is located in the ancient Diaoyu City. Diaoyu in English means fishing and was named after the hill on which it was built on.
The experts said in the 13th Century, during the war between the Song imperial army and Mongolian troops, Diaoyu City was an important part of the defense system of the present-day Sichuan Province and Chongqing.
Yuan Dongshan, deputy director of the Chongqing Municipal Institute of Cultural Heritage, said that the iron bomb is one of the most important discoveries at Diaoyu City.
"The remnant is the earliest type of bomb found in the history of firearms in China and the world," said Yuan.
It was found in a drainage channel of the Fanjiayan ruins, where more than 80 similar iron bombs were also found, but the remnant was the only one that exploded.
It is the size of an apple and made of cast iron. Its top is missing because of the explosion. It can be held in one hand but is very heavy.
The remains of the bomb measures 11 centimeters in diameter, 9.7 centimeters in height and 0.8 centimeters in thickness of its shell. Yuan said it is detonated by a fuse.
"This is the most advanced weapon made with cutting-edge technology of the day," Yuan said.
Gunpowder is one of the four great inventions of ancient China, and the greatest scientific and technological achievement of China in the Middle Ages.
In the late 10th century, alchemists developed the gunpowder formula in the process of refining alchemy. It was used later by military strategists for firearms in combat, which was the first chemical explosive used by mankind.
"The world's earliest iron shell bomb, 'Iron Cannon', was one of the most important inventions in the field of gunpowder and firearms in ancient China. However, there has been no reliable material object to prove its existence for a long time, which makes it impossible for academic circles to do practical research on it," said Zhong Shaoyi, a researcher with the Chinese People's Liberation Army Academy of Military Science.
He said the abundant and reliable material objects unearthed in the Fanjiayan ruins not only provide firsthand materials for the study of the history of gunpowder and firearms but also provide new material evidence for in-depth study of war history and military history in the 13th century, which is of great academic significance.