History of Datong
As early as Palaeolithic age, there were ancient people living in this area. During the Warring States Period (476 BC - 221 BC), Datong region belonged to the Yanmen County of Zhao Kingdom. After Qin (221BC - 206 BC) unified the whole of China, the Great Wall was built west of Datong City. Datong got the name Pingcheng County that means peaceful city in Chinese because of years of harsh battle with the Hun.
During the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420 AD - 589 AD), Pingcheng was settled as the capital of Northern Wei Kingdom for 96 years and became destroyed at the year 526. The famous Yungang Grottoes were constructed during the later part of this period (460 AD- 494 AD). After a long term of recovering, it became an important strategic county during Sui (581 AD - 618 AD), Tang (618 AD - 907 AD) and Five Dynasties (907 AD- 979 AD).
Liao Dynasty (916 AD- 1125 AD) made Datong the auxiliary capital in 1044 and Jin (Kin) (1115 AD- 1234 AD) retained it as a big city comprised of seven counties and three towns.
During the Yuan Dynasty (1271 AD- 1368 AD), Datong belonged to Zhongshu Province and had become a 'grandiose and beautiful city' according to the description of the Italian traveler Marco Polo.
In Qing Dynasty (1644 AD- 1919, Datong belonged to Shanxi Province and became Datong County during the domination of Republic of China.
Datong was invaded by Japanese army in 1937 and became the capital of the so-called Northern Shanxi Self-Government.
On May 1st 1949, Datong City was peacefully librated by the Communist army.
On February sixteenth 1982, Datong was approved as first batch of national historical and cultural city by the State Council. Now it is the second largest city in Shanxi province.