Salt was for a time the lifeline for social and economic development in today's Three Gorges' Dam area of the Yangtze River,China's longest, said researchers after a recent tour to ancient salt processing centers in the area. The researchers, including archeologists and historians, have collected enough cultural heritage items and specimens to explain how salt was processed and distributed in the region in history. "Many wars were fought in the area over the control of salt resources," said #@!&% Chuanping, an official in charge of archeological excavation and heritage protection in the region. Salt has always been the lifeline in China's history, said Prof.Ge Jianxiong with the Shanghai-based Fudan University. "Whoever controls salt has the power to decide his own fate and that of allothers," he said. The Three Gorges' Dam area, where brine springs abound, used tobe a center for salt processing and distribution. Experts have unearthed a huge amount of chinaware pieces in the region, which they believe were used for salt processing and storage. "The rich salt resources in the Three Dams also helped the great ruler Ying Zheng, the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty (221 -207 BC), to unify six rival states into one country and establish a form of government which had a lasting influence on Chinese feudalism," said Prof. Ge. Archeologists have been racing against time to rescue cultural relics facing submersion under the Three Gorges Reservoir, turningthe area into the world's biggest archeological worksite.