As for the origin of the Yan City and who on earth the master of Yan City is, opinions vary in the fields of historiography and archaeology and there has been no last word yet up to now. There is one version saying that Yan City was once the capital of the Yan State at the late Shang and early Zhou Dynasties, and Lord Yan was then the monarch of the Yan State in the east of Qufu, Shangdong Province. It is said that Lord Yan is the monarch of the Yan State who colluded with Wu Geng, an offspring of the Shang Dynasty, and started a rebel during the period of King Zhou Chengwang’s reign. After the rebel army was wiped out by Zhou Chengwang, he led the military remnants and fled Shangdong finally to the Yangtze River Delta, where a moat was hollowed out to make a river and earth was piled up to build a city that was still named “Yan”. Since the Chinese character “淹” was interchangeable with “奄” in the ancient times, it has been passed down up to now, whence came the name of Yan City(“淹城” in Chinese). Another version is that Ji Zha, the son of the lord of the Wu State at the late Spring and Autumn Period, was resentful with He Lv, who stabbed King Wangliao and usurped the throne. He was determined to break with the despotic rule of He Lv and “never to enter the state of Wu for his life”. Hence, he built a city and dug a river in the manor of Yanling to show his determination to remain. The city was called “Yan City”. The master of the city was undoubtedly Ji Zha. The ancient historical city, Yan City has many unsolved mysteries to be revealed by archaeological workers and historians. According the historical book, the highest spot of the ancient wall of Yan City was as high as 20 meters and the base of wall was as wide as 25 to 30 meters, which were all built with earth.
Since 1958, a large quantity of gallipots, jars, urns and earthen bowls with geometry plating as well as bronzes (such as bronze bell set chimes and ancient bronze cooking vessels) have been unearthed in Yan City. The canoes excavated in the inner city stirred the field of archaeology in China. The largest canoe was made by hollowing out the whole section of Nanmu with a pitching tool and baked with fire. It is 11 meters long, 0.9 meters wide and 0.45 meters deep. It is reputed as “the first boat under the Heaven” and now is treasured up in the Beijing Museum.