Halin, Pyu Cultural Heritage Region Nominated World Heritage List
The three Pyu Ancient Cities of Halin, Beikthano and Sri Ksetra which developed and flourished over a period of more than 1,000 years between circa 200 BCE and 900 CE in the Dry Zone of the middle Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) River basin within the territory of what is today modern Myanmar. Together, they cover a combined area of over 4,000 hectares, located within buffer zones of a combined additional area of almost 9,000 hectares.
Halin (95’ 49.7” E 22’ 28.2” N), 540 hectares, lies 13 kilometers southeast of the modern town of Shwebo within the 1,00 kilometer square basin of the Mu River Valley. The walled site is located between the Ayeyarwaddy and Mu Rivers with its moats and canals aligned with the prevailing land slope from northeast to southwest. There is a depression to the south now occupied by the Halin in of lake. Rice yields were probably augmented by irrigation waters from the Nagayon tank which lies to the southeast of the city. To the south of Halin is hot springs associated with rich salt fields, while to the northeast there is access to the largest silver mine in the region. The palace is located near the middle of the site. It locates in the watershed between the Mu and Ayeyarwaddy Rivers, 18 kilometers southeast of Shwebo and 24 kilometers east of the present course of the Mu River.
Systematic Excavations at Halin from 1962 to resent shed futher light on the urban morphology of the ancient site. As the Beikthano and the palace-citadel at Sri Ksetra the north-south axis is inclined slightly to the west, Contemporary Chinese annals mention a Pyu city, presumably Halin, with twelve gates, three of which have been excavated to date. Radiocarbon dates from an earthenware site located in the salt-rich area southwest of Halin city wall demonstrates that this area was settled by at least some 4,500 years before present.
Occupation continued in this part of the later urban zone with excavations of Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age burials, With the advent of Buddhism in the era of the Pyu Ancient Cities, however, brick began to be used, seen in the construction of massive gateways, walls and the numerous types of ritual buildings described above. At Halin, radiocarbon dates have been obtained from four gates with the dates ranging from the early 2nd and 3rd century CE. By the 2nd to 3rd century CE, the movement of cats and goods in and out of the city can be traced in repeated repairs to maintain the walls and entry ways.
Integrity and Authenticity
At Halin, the transition from earlier Iron Age cultures is clearly demonstrated allowing an understanding of the endogenous rise of the unique form of Pyu urbanism and the essential link to its environmental setting in the middle Ayeyarwaddy river basin.
Pyu urban settlements are characterized by the sensitive adaptation and development of the extended urban form to the landscape. Halin utilized the site-specific conditions fo the slope and soils to irrigate and expand agricultural production and develop the surplus necessary for urban population expansion, labor specialization, and active participation in the growing regional trade networks of the first millennium CE. The different hydrology characteristics of Halin Pyu Site needed and included into the property in order to demonstrate the nature, range, and sophistication of Pyu engineering and built adaptions to the landscape, with the north to south slope of land and flow of water at Halin.
The authenticity of th Pyu Ancient Cities is to be found in the architectural form and design of unaltered and still-standing monumental structures and urban precincts; a continuous tradition of the use and function of the property’s sites of Buddhist veneration; enduring traditions and techniques of agricultural and production management systems, the origins of which are visible in the historic landscape and which continue to be practiced among the local community; the original location and setting of the cities as verified by archaeological research and which remains largely unchanged since the end of historic urbanized settlement 1000 years ago; the materials and substance of the excavated artifacts from the sites, sourced locally and manufactured on-site, and the spirit and felling of the three ancient cities which throughout the history of Myanmar and until the present day continues to inspire pilgrimage.
Halin represents the simplest unban format of the three, but demonstrates the accuracy with which Pyu architects located their cities to take advantage of limited water resources within a very arid environment. Halin has also provided the earliest C14 dates for major Pyu fortifications.
Urban Formation : City-Plan
The ancient brick-walled city at Halin is remarkably large: nearly 3.2 kilometers from north to south and 1.6 kilometers from east to west, compassing a total area of more than 500 hectares. The walls have crumbled down and the debris strewn about almost at ground level. Traces of a moat are seen on all sides except the south. In excavations at Halin, some parts of the southern fortification were exposed and it was found that the wall has a breadth of 9.02 meters with 35 courses of bricks in city in its northern face and 21 courses in its southern face the brick were laid in mud mortar. The adjacent stratifications show that the wall is support by a thick deposit of filling from the interior as a rampart, a construction technique used again in the much later Mandalay palace fort wall built in the middle of the 19th century CE. The alignment of the southern wall was found to have a curve at the south-eastern corner. Here the breadth of the fortification is only 14.9 meters with 8 courses of bricks intact. The inner face of the curve has a guard room measuring 4.6 x 4.5 meters. It may be generalized from the available evidence that the fortifications assume a rectangular with inside corners founded the guard room attached inside the curves.