Highlights

  • Ancient treasure trove found in China
  • Bronze, gold & jade wares discovered
  • Objects are 4,500 to 3,000 years old

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China: massive treasure trove sheds light on mysterious ancient kingdom

Chinese official media reported that the artefacts are stated to be that of a mysterious kingdom believed to be dating back some 4,500 to 3,000 years.

Chinese archaeologists have stumbled on an ancient treasure trove discovering a record collection of about 13,000 artefacts stated to be that of a mysterious kingdom believed to be dating back some 4,500 to 3,000 years, official media reported.

Archaeologists' stunning discovery of a treasure trove of exquisite bronze, gold and jade wares, including at least 10 bronzewares, were recently unearthed for the first time in the history of human civilisation at the Sanxingdui Ruins site in southwest China's Sichuan Province, state-run Xinhua news agency reported on Monday.

Originally discovered in the late 1920s, the Sanxingdui Ruins have been dubbed as one of the world's greatest archaeological findings of the 20th century.

Located in the city of Guanghan, around 60 km from the provincial capital Chengdu, the ruins covering an area of 12 square km are believed to be the remnants of the Shu Kingdom, dating back some 4,500 to 3,000 years, the report said.

Around the pits, archaeologists also found ash ditches, architectural foundations and small sacrificial pits, and cultural relics, as well as bamboo, reeds, soybeans, and cattle and boars that may have been sacrificed.

A joint team of archaeologists from Sichuan Provincial Cultural Relics and Archaeology Research Institute, Peking University, Sichuan University and other research institutions and universities has carried out the excavation of six sacrificial pits at this site since 2020.

The new finds are mainly excavated from the No.7 and No.8 sacrificial pits, bringing the total number of items discovered in the six pits at Sanxingdui to nearly 13,000, according to the Sichuan Provincial Cultural Relics and Archaeology Research Institute.

A bronze box with a green jade ware inside, which was discovered in the No.7 pit, is a highlight among the newly found artefacts.

The top and bottom of the vessel are covered with tortoise-shaped reticulate lids, and the sides of the box are adorned with a bronze hinge, handles shaped as dragon heads and a few bronze streamers. Microtrace analysis revealed that the box was wrapped in silk, according to the archaeologists.

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"It would not be an exaggeration to say that the vessel is one of its kind, given its distinctive shape, fine craftsmanship and ingenious design. Although we do not know what this vessel was used for, we can assume that ancient people treasured it," said Li Haichao, a professor at Sichuan University who is in charge of the excavation at No.7 pit.

Jade wares and bronze decorations, figurines and bells were also found in the pit.

In the adjacent No.8 pit, archaeologists unearthed a variety of artefacts, including bronze heads with gold masks, a bronze sculpture with a human head and snake body, a bronze altar, a giant mythical creature made of bronze and a dragon-shaped bronze item with a pig nose.

"The sculptures are very complex and imaginative, reflecting the fairy world imagined by people at that time, and they demonstrate the diversity and richness of Chinese civilization," Zhao Hao, an associate professor at Peking University who is head of the excavation of the No.8 pit said.

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