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Forbidden City stones transported along ice roads

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New research suggests that the multi-ton stones used to build the Forbidden City in China may have been moved there along roads made of ice.

Hauling massive stones long distances over ice roads “is an interesting and plausible idea”, says Michael Parker Pearson, an archaeologist at University College London. But although winters in northern China were typically cold enough to allow the use of ice-lubricated highways, other parts of the world where large stone monuments are found — Stonehenge is a prime example, he notes — did not have the consistently cold winters required to reliably employ the technique.

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Story: Sid Perkins, Nature | Photo: Li Jingwang/Getty

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