More than 80 sites including saltwater springs and brine pits have been found in an ancient town in southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality, local authorities said Wednesday.

Ancient salt production sites discovered in Chongqing

The Chongqing Cultural Heritage Research Institute said those sites, dating back between the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-220 A.D.) and the Qing Dynasty (1616-1911), are located in Ningchang Town of Wuxi County.

The excavation and preservation of the salt industry sites in Ningchang is part of the historical sites protection project of the Three Gorges Project, according to Zhou Yong, who works for the institute.

During an investigation launched between April and November last year, the institute found over 80 sites in the town and surrounding areas, including salt manufacturing sites, roads, government agencies, temples, dwellings, cliff tombs and militant strongholds.

Tools for production and daily life have also been discovered on the site.

Ningchang ancient town was once one of the most important salt production areas in China. Salt produced in the town was sold in eastern Sichuan and central China’s Hubei Province.