Two-face bronze head unearthed in central China

Two-face bronze head unearthed in central China

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Archaeologists in China have discovered a rare bronze head with two faces in a tomb complex in Hubei Province. It is believed to date back 3,000 years to the early Western Zhou Dynasty (1046-771 BC)

"It is the first time that such a sculpture has been discovered from the Western Zhou Dynasty," said Li Boqian, an archeologist with Beijing University.

The bronze head was found in the Ye Jiashan Graveyard in the city of Suizhou, which is believed to hold the bodies of around 150 nobles during the Western Zhou Dynasty. It was found in tomb M111, which made headlines earlier this month when it was first realised as the largest tomb ever found for the period. Local residents gathered around excitedly as archaeologists also uncovered 6 large bells made from bronze.

The bronze head was placed over the head of the owner of the tomb, suggesting that it was believed to hold some significance and may have had a religious purpose. According to Bogian, it may represent a god that was worshipped by the people of the time.

The sculpture, which features large eyes, protruding cheekbones and horns, is similar to masks uncovered from the Sanxingdui Ruins in southwest China's Sichuan Province, which also featured large protruding eyes and unusual facial features. However, other archaeologists believe it more closely resembles another two-faced sculpture found in a Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BC) tomb in 1989 in Jiangxi Province.

The excavation of Ye Jiashan Cemetery has shed new light on the burial practices of the Western Zhou Dynasty. Along with the rare two-faced bronze head, archaeologists have also uncovered the dynasty’s first painted bronze and a tomb burying a set of 19 dings (cooking vessels) and 12 guis (food containers) that are not typical for burial of a king or nobleman.


    Sanxingdui (Chinese: 三星堆 pinyin: Sānxīngduī lit. 'Three Star Mound') is the name of an archaeological site and a major Bronze Age culture in modern Guanghan, Sichuan, China. Largely discovered in 1986, [1] following a preliminary finding in 1927, [2] archaeologists excavated remarkable artifacts that radiocarbon dating placed in the 12th–11th centuries BC. [3] The type site for the Sanxingdui culture that produced these artifacts, archeologists have identified the locale with the ancient kingdom of Shu. The artifacts are displayed in the Sanxingdui Museum located near the city of Guanghan. [3]

    The discovery at Sanxingdui, as well as other discoveries such as the Xingan tombs in Jiangxi, challenges the traditional narrative of Chinese civilization spreading from the central plain of the Yellow River, and Chinese archaeologists have begun to speak of "multiple centers of innovation jointly ancestral to Chinese civilization." [4] [5]

    Sanxingdui, along with the Jinsha site and the Tombs of boat-shaped coffins, is on UNESCO's list of tentative world heritage sites. [6]

    The Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 bce )

    The earliest examples of bronze vessels were unearthed in Erlitou, near the modern city of Luoyang in Henan province, which may or may not represent the earliest named Shang capital, Po, if not a still earlier Xia dynasty site. There a “palace” with pounded-earth foundation, fine jades, simple bronze vessels, and oracle bones were found. At Erligang, in the Zhengzhou area in Henan province, traces have been found of a walled city that may have been the middle Shang capital referred to as Ao.

    Yin, the most enduring of Shang capital sites, lasting through the reigns of the last 9 (or 12) Shang kings, was located near the modern city of Anyang, in Henan province. Its discovery in 1899 by paleographers following the tracks of tomb robbers opened the way to verification of traditional accounts of the Shang dynasty and for the first scientific examination of China’s early civilization. There, recorded on oracle bones, the written documentation for the first time is rich, archival, and wide-ranging regarding activities of the theocratic Shang government. Excavations conducted near Anyang between 1928 and 1937 provided the initial training ground for modern Chinese archaeology and continued periodically after 1949.

    No fewer than 14 royal tombs have been unearthed near Anyang, culminating in the 1976 excavation of the first major tomb to have survived intact—that of Fu Hao, who is believed to have been a consort of the Shang king Wuding and a noted military leader. The Fu Hao tomb contained more than 440 bronze vessels and 590 jade objects among its numerous exquisite works. Remains of Bronze Age settlements of the Shang period have also been found over a large area of northern and central China.

    More than any other factor, it was the unearthing of magnificent bronze vessels at Anyang that demonstrated the power and wealth of the Shang rulers. The vessels were used in divinatory ceremonies for sacrificial offerings of meat, wine, and grain, primarily to the spirits of clan ancestors, especially those of the ruler and his family. They were probably kept in the ancestral hall of the clan, and, in some cases, they were buried with their owner.

    Surprisingly, perhaps, the bronze vessels were not discussed in Shang oracle bone inscriptions. But by late Shang times they themselves sometimes came to bear short, cast, dedicatory inscriptions providing the name of the vessel type, the patron, and the ancestor to whom the vessel was dedicated. What may be a clan name is also often included, enclosed within an inscribed notched square of uncertain meaning but now called a yaxing. The common addition by early Zhou times (1046–256 bce ) of the phrase “May sons and grandsons forever treasure and use it” provides evidence that most vessels were made originally for use in temple sacrifices rather than for burial, but other vessels, poorly cast and inscribed with posthumous ancestral names of the newly deceased, were clearly intended for the tomb.

    The right to cast or possess these vessels was probably confined to the royal house itself originally but later was bestowed upon local governors set up by the ruler still later, in the Zhou dynasty, the right was claimed by rulers of the feudal states and indeed by anyone who was rich and powerful enough to cast his own vessels.

    The vessel types are known today either by names given them in Shang or Zhou times that can be identified in contemporary inscriptions, such as the li, ding, and xian (yan), or by names such as you, jia, and gong that were given to them by later Chinese scholars and antiquarians. The vessels may be grouped according to their presumed function in sacrificial rites. For cooking food, the main types are the li, a round-bodied vessel with a trilobed base extending into three hollow legs its cousins the ding, a hemispheric vessel on three solid legs, and the fangding, a square vessel standing on four legs and the xian, or yan, a steamer consisting of a bowl placed above a li tripod, with a perforated grate between the two. For offering food, the principal vessel was the gui, a bowl placed on a ring-shaped foot, like a modern-day wok.

    The word zun embraces wine containers of a variety of shapes. Among vessels for heating or offering wine are the you, a covered bucket with a swing handle the jia, a round tripod or square quadruped with a handle on the side and raised posts with caps rising from its rim the related jue, a smaller beaker on three legs, with an extended pouring spout in front, a pointed tail in the rear, a side handle, and posts with caps the he, distinguished by its cylindrical pouring spout the gong, resembling a covered gravy boat and the elegant trumpet-mouthed gu. Vessels for ablutions include the pan, a large, shallow bowl. The shapes of the round-bodied vessels were often derived from earlier pottery forms the square-section vessels, with flat sides generally richly decorated, are thought to derive from boxes, baskets, or containers of carved wood or bone. Other objects connected with the rites were bronze drums and bells. Weapons and fittings for chariots, harness, and other utilitarian purposes also were made of bronze.

    Bronze vessels were cast not by the lost-wax process (using a wax mold), as formerly supposed, but in sectional molds, quantities of which have been found at Shang sites. In this complex process, which reflects the Chinese early mastery of the ceramic medium, a clay model of the body is built around a solid core representing the vessel’s interior clay molding is used to encase the model, then sliced into sections and removed the model is eliminated the mold pieces are reconstructed around the core, using metal spacers to separate mold and core and molten bronze is poured into the hollow space. Legs, handles, and appended sculpture are often cast separately and later integrated in a lock-on pour. Surface decoration may be added to the model surface before the mold is applied, requiring a double transfer from clay to clay to metal, or added in reverse to the mold surface after its removal from the model, with an incised design on the mold yielding a raised design on the metal surface. Ritual vessels range from about 15 cm (6 inches) to more than 130 cm (50 inches) in height with weights up to 875 kg (1,925 pounds). The intricacy and sharpness of the decoration shows that by the end of the 2nd millennium bce the art of bronze casting in China was the most advanced in the world.

    While many Shang ritual bronzes are plain or only partly ornamented, others are richly decorated with a variety of geometric and zoomorphic motifs, and a small number take the form of a bird or animal. The dominating motif is the taotie, seen either as two stylized creatures juxtaposed face-to-face or as a single creature with its body splayed out on both sides of a masklike head. The term taotie first appeared in the late Zhou and is perhaps related to eclipse mythology and the idea of renewal. Song dynasty antiquarians offered the unlikely interpretation that it represented a warning against gluttony. Alternative modern suggestions are that it was a fertility symbol like the later Chinese dragon, bestowing longevity on the ruling clan that it was a fierce spirit which protected the rites and the participants from harm that it embodied a variety of creatures related to the ceremonial sacrifices that it was totemic or related to shamanic empowerment or that its dual structure represented the inseparable forces of creation and destruction. Other creatures on the bronzes are the gui (each like half of the doubled taotie), tiger, cicada, snake, owl, ram, and ox. In later times the tiger represented nature’s power, the cicada and snake symbolized regeneration, the owl was a carrier of the soul, and the ram and ox were chief animals of ancestral sacrifices. It is not known whether these meanings were attached to the creatures on Shang bronzes, for no Shang writing addresses the issue, but it seems likely that they had a more than purely decorative purpose. There is no suggested environmental setting for these creatures. The human figure appears only rarely in Shang bronzes, usually in the grasp of these powerful zoomorphic creatures.

    The art of the Shang bronzes began as technically simple, albeit sometimes quite elegant, thinly cast vessels that were clearly ceramic prototypes. It reached a climax of sculpturesque monumentality at the end of the dynasty, reflecting a long period of peace and stability at Anyang. In the early 1950s the scholar Max Loehr identified five phases or styles in the evolution of Shang bronze surface decor and casting techniques. The thin-walled vessels of Style I typically carry a narrow register of zoomorphic motifs that are more abstract in appearance than motifs of later times the motifs are composed of thin, raised lines created by incision on the production molds. Style II zoomorphic forms are composed of broad, flat bands in narrow horizontal registers, incised on the model, often on a raised band of ceramic appliqué. In Style III, dense curvilinear designs derived from those of the previous phase begin to cover much of the surface of an increasingly thick-walled vessel, and the zoomorph becomes increasingly difficult to discern. The main zoomorphic motifs of Style IV, although flush to the surface of the vessel (exclusive of appended heads, handles, and fully sculptural attachments), become clearly distinguishable as set against a dense spiral background known as “thunder pattern” (leiwen) in this phase, with similar spirals placed sparsely over the zoomorph, which itself is constructed from the same linear vocabulary, an intricate decorative system of interactive forms, rich in philosophical implications, begins to reach maturity. In Style V the main motifs are set forth in increasingly bold plastic relief through the use of ceramic appliqué upon the model. The Style I bodily form clearly reveals conceptualization derived from ceramics, while Style V vessels fully utilize the sculpturesque possibilities of the molded-bronze technology. Styles I and II appear at Zhengzhou Style III appears at both Zhengzhou and early Anyang and Styles IV and V are found in the Anyang period only. Pre-Style I vessels, ceramic in form, thin-walled, and with little or no surface decor, have been found at Erlitou near Luoyang, demonstrating early Shang or even Xia origins.

    Ancient military defense area unearthed in central China

    ZHENGZHOU, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- A square that once served as military defense area in ancient China has been unearthed in the central Province of Henan.

    Known as Wengcheng in Chinese, it is the earliest square defense area ever discovered in China, according to Liu Haiwang, head of the Henan Provincial Institute of Cultural Heritage and Archaeology.

    The defense area was discovered in Henan's Kaifeng City, which once served as the capital of eight dynasties in China.

    "The discovery provided valuable materials for research about the layout of the capital city of the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127), the evolution of gates in ancient Chinese capitals and the history of Kaifeng's development," Liu said.

    Wengcheng was usually built in military fortresses before the Tang Dynasty (618-907). It began to be part of city construction during the Song Dynasty (960-1279).

    2,000-year-old bronze pot with unknown liquid unearthed in central China

    A 2,000-year-old bronze pot freshly unearthed in central China's Henan Province has contained more than 3,000 ml of unknown liquid.

    Archaeologists discovered the pot with a curved neck in the shape of a swan in a tomb in the city of Sanmenxia. Also unearthed from the tomb included a bronze helmet, a bronze basin and swords made of iron and jade.

    A 2,000-year-old bronze pot freshly unearthed in central China's Henan Province has contained more than 3,000 ml of unknown liquid. [Photo/Xinhua]

    The unknown liquid in the pot was yellowish-brown in color with impurities. The sample was sent to Beijing for further tests.

    Preliminary judgment based on the form of the tomb indicates the tomb was built at the turn of the Qin Dynasty (221 BC-207 BC) and the Han Dynasty (202 BC-AD 220). Its owner might be a low-ranking official with a title.

    The bronze pot was excavated from an ancient tomb when the archaeologists were examining the site of a local shantytown renovation project, said Zhu Xiaodong, deputy head of Sanmenxia's institute of cultural relics and archaeology.

    This was also the first bronze pot of its kind ever discovered in Sanmenxia, according to Zhu.

    The archaeologists invited a senior veterinarian to help identify the shape as of a swan.

    "The design resembles that of a mute swan," said Gao Ruyi, a senior veterinarian with the Sanmenxia wetland park, adding that the beak of a swan is longer than that of a goose, which has been degenerated as a result of being fed by human beings.

    Archaeologists speculated that the ancient craftsmen may have observed swans closely to create the pot in such a realistic shape.

    "We can boldly estimate that swans may have appeared in Sanmenxia during the late Qin and early Han dynasties," said Zhu.

    Sanmenxia has been receiving swans from Siberia in winter since the 1980s. Local people are fond of the graceful birds and feed them voluntarily.

    Located between Xi'an and Luoyang, two ancient capitals in Chinese history, Sanmenxia used to serve as a military and traffic artery. As a result, the city is rich in historical relics.

    Is Sanxingdui an alien relic? Answer is hidden in the latest archaeological results

    Described by Chinese netizens as “six blind boxes”, the archaeology of the Sanxingdui site opened its latest results to the public on the 20th.

    Before that, the impression of Sanxingdui could be summed up by words like “mysterious” and “novel”, and many people would wonder what kind of ancient people lived in this site, and some even speculated that Sanxingdui is the remains of aliens. However, the latest archaeological results have answered some questions to some extent.

    Is Sanxingdui an extraterrestrial civilization?

    The reason for this and that kind of imagination of Sanxingdui is closely related to the many cultural relics unearthed in the “Sacrificial Pit” of the site in 1986.

    The tall bronze statue of god, bronze tree, exquisite gold mask, gold staff, as well as large jade, ivory …… these precious artifacts unearthed in the last century, all of them show people the huge difference between Sanxingdui and people’s impression of China’s cultural relics.

    At the press conference on the morning of the 20th, Sun Hua, a professor at the School of Archaeology, Arts and Sciences of Peking University, said frankly that the discovery that year attracted great attention from domestic and foreign scholars and the public because “everyone was surprised. It seemed that China did not cast these things before.”

    In short, it has the characteristics of extraterritorial civilization. As a result, various speculations follow. As a result, not only foreign claims, but also bold speculations such as “Sanxingdui is a relic of aliens” appeared.

    So, is Sanxingdui really a relic outside of Chinese civilization? The answer has to be found in the archaeological evidence.

    The latest archaeological results “have something to say”

    In fact, the excavated artifacts from Sanxingdui that shocked the world last century are only from the No. 1 and No. 2 “sacrificial pits.” From November 2019 to May 2020, archaeologists discovered six new “sacrificial pits” of the Sanxingdui culture.

    According to the State Administration of Cultural Heritage news, at present, 3, 4, 5, 6 pits have been excavated to the artifact layer, 7 and 8 pits are excavating the pit fill, has unearthed gold mask fragments, bird-shaped gold pieces, gold foil, eyes with painted bronze head, giant bronze mask, bronze tree, ivory, fine-tooth carving remnants, jade congs, jade stone tools and other important cultural relics more than 500 pieces.

    In addition, Song Xinchao, deputy director of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage of China, said in an interview with the media that the bronze square dzong, large bronze masks and ivory trinkets carved with diamond-shaped ornaments found there are very important new discoveries.

    One thing here seems to be different from people’s inherent impression: the Sanxingdui site with obvious characteristics of extraterritorial civilization also has Fangzun that was popular outside Sichuan in ancient times?

    Cultural exchange marks

    Dakouzun in the southern part of the late Shang Dynasty was found in Hunan, Hubei and other places in history. At the press conference on the 20th, Zhang Changping, a professor at the School of History of Wuhan University, pointed out that this showed that Sanxingdui had the possibility of communicating with the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River at that time.

    Zhang Changping also said that the local bronzes of Sanxingdui have very clear borrowings from the elements of the Central Plains culture. “For example, the cloud and thunder pattern is enlarged as a symbol of Sanxingdui.” And the cloud and thunder pattern is the representative ornament of Shang culture in the Central Plains.

    Ran Honglin, the person in control of the archaeological excavation site of Sanxingdui, said at a presentation on the same afternoon that a series of bronze statues, bronze figures, and jade statues can be found at the site of Yin Ruins. It shows a kind of association with Shang culture. It is evident that there is a kind of similarity between the bronze statues, copper figures, and jade objects of the unearthed sites.

    Obviously, the Sanxingdui culture is not isolated.

    Ran Honglin also pointed out that from the perspective of the unearthed cultural relics, the Sanxingdui site and the Jinsha site in Sichuan are more closely related. “Whether it is the bronze, jade, and gold unearthed in the two places, or the choice of the location of the two remains, the direction of the houses and tombs, the continuity between the two can be seen. The Jinsha and Sanxingdui sites belong to the ancient Shu. Civilization is the central site of two different periods created by the same group of people.”

    Unsolved mysteries and new questions

    The excavations at the Sanxingdui site, which have continued for decades, have so far found no written records. Is there writing at Sanxingdui or not?

    Ran Honglin revealed that archaeologists have found engraved symbols on many pottery vessels. “We tend to think that this is at least an indication that there was writing.” But what do the symbols mean? That’s another new question.

    The article from the State Administration of Cultural Heritage shows that archaeologists made full use of modern technology in this excavation. It also opened the archaeologists’ eyes to the possibility of resolving some of the doubts.

    Sun Hua called the excavation a “fine excavation”. An important improvement over previous excavations is that “there is a lot of organic matter that we were not able to extract in the past, but now we have the possibility of extracting it.

    For example, he said, “We found so many bronze heads, what is its body? People used to speculate that it was wood, but now I see that there seems to be something wooden and body-like already being unearthed. It could be a pillar, it could be a body. I think there will definitely be new discoveries, it’s just that these discoveries are just now showing their heads.”

    In addition, during the excavation, the China Silk Museum team found traces of textiles in the ashes of Pit 4 through microscopic observation, possibly attached to the surface of the bronze the presence of silk proteins in the ash layer of Pit 4 was monitored using enzyme-linked immunoassay technology, suggesting that silk was once present in Pit 4.

    Yang Zhou, director of the technical department of the Chinese Silk Museum, tends to believe that these silks were perhaps used for rituals at the time, as a vehicle to communicate between heaven and earth, man and god.

    It is worth mentioning that Ran Honglin revealed that, based on the information currently available, the No. 8 pit that is being excavated and filled with soil may still be unearthed relatively rich cultural relics.

    Two-face bronze head unearthed in central China - History

    A bronze head discovered at the Sanxingdui site in Sichuan Province Photo: Li Hao/GT

    A bronze pommel Photo: Li Hao/GT

    Sichuan, a province in Southwest China, has long been famous for its rich history and large variety of cultural relics that reflect local customs and beliefs dating back to around 3,000 years ago.

    Going back to its beginnings, the region of what is now western Sichuan was once the center of what was known as the Kingdom of Shu (Unknown - 316 BC). To introduce the brilliant history of this region to the general public, an exhibition featuring a selection of ancient Shu cultural relics from Sichuan kicked off at the National Museum of China in Beijing on Thursday.

    The exhibition is arranged in chronological order with five main sections laying out the history of this mysterious ancient kingdom and the connected Sanxingdui, Shierqiao and Qingyanggong cultures.

    Early Shu culture

    Following a preliminary discovery in 1929, Sanxingdui was systematically excavated starting in 1986. The findings, which cover a period of time ranging from the 18th century BC to the mid-12th century BC, have given archaeologists an excellent window into the early development of Shu culture.

    The Sanxingdui site was the early capital of the Shu Kingdom as well as its "cultural center," Guo Juntao, the curator of the Sichuan Museum, said at a media conference for the exhibition on Thursday.

    The most outstanding finds unearthed at the site were two treasure pits containing more than 1,700 cultural relics in total, including bronze sculptures, bronze pommels and jades. Adding to the historical value of these finds is that the styles of the artifacts are very different from those found in other sites across China dating from the same period.

    According to Guo, the majority of the Sanxingdui culture relics on display were selected from the two treasure pits.

    "The huge bronze face you see upon first entering the exhibition is the most representative item of Sanxingdui culture," Guo noted, referring to a large bronze head with long protruding eyes.

    "According to historical documents, this bronze face might be a reflection of the vague memories they had about the ancestor of the ancient Shu people. They heard legendary stories about their great ancestor and made this bronze face so they could pray to their ancestor."

    The second section delves into the Shierqiao culture that existed between the 12th century BC and the 6th century BC. During this time, the capital of the Shu Kingdom moved from the Sanxingdui area to an area 50 kilometers away near where modern Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan Province, is located. The remains of this capital was discovered in what is now known as the Jinsha site.

    "We found bronze pommels similar to those we found in Sanxingdui. However, we have no evidence that helps us determine what their function was. Most likely they were symbols of power," Huang Yi, curator of the National Museum of China, explained.

    Late Shu culture

    "Many visitors may be familiar with the Sanxingdui and Jinsha archaeological sites, but few have heard about the late Shu culture," Guo explained.

    Late Shu culture, which refers to Sichuan culture after the 4th century BC, often gets overlooked compared to the earlier Sanxingdui and Shierqiao cultures due to the fact that the Shu Kingdom was conquered by the Qin Dynasty (206BC-220AD) in 316 BC. After its unification into the Qin Dynasty, Shu culture began fusing with other cultures from the central plains of China.

    However, some important discoveries dating from this period have been unearthed.

    In 1980, a huge tomb was discovered in Majiaxiang, Xindu county in Sichuan Province. Dating to the Warring States period (475BC-221BC), the tomb contained more than 200 bronze wares. According to experts, the luxury burial objects indicate that the tomb owner was "possibly the king of the Shu."

    The exhibition is set to come to an end on September 19, after which it will head to South China's Guangdong Province and then on to Italy in December.

    Two-face bronze head unearthed in central China - History

    Posted on 09/20/2020 8:19:18 AM PDT by SunkenCiv

    After testing, Chinese researchers have confirmed that the 3,000 ml of unknown liquid found in a bronze pot unearthed in central China's Henan province is alcohol dating to the early Western Han dynasty (206 B.C. - A.D. 24).

    In a tomb in the city of Sanmenxia, archaeologists discovered the pot with a curved neck in the shape of a swan this May.

    Researchers from the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (UCAS) also found that the alcohol was similar to the medicinal liquor recorded in an ancient medical book discovered in the Mawangdui Tombs of the Han Dynasty in Changsha, central China's Hunan province.

    Testing will continue, including a nitrogen isotopic analysis, to obtain more information on raw materials, production processes and functions of the ancient alcohol, according to Yang Yimin, a professor with the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology University under the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

    "A bronze pot of this kind is rarely seen. The test report from the sample indicates that the pot was used to hold alcohol," said Zheng Lichao, head of Sanmenxia's Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology.

    From the tomb, a bronze mirror, a bronze basin and swords made of iron and jade were also unearthed by archaeologists.

    TOPICS: History Science Travel
    KEYWORDS: godsgravesglyphs handynasty oenology zymurgy Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
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    Swan drwan booze tastes the best

    You have to get those nitrogen isotypes just right.

    That pot must have an air-tight seal.

    Did anyone taste it? Any better than the moonshiner’s booze?

    I suspect that the alcohol would react to the bronze, at least until a patina was formed over the metal.

    Is the actual opening of the "pot" where that ring around the neck is?

    And, was the curved "neck" a tight-fitting plug that sealed that opening?

    If so, I can see how a tight metal-to-metal press fit -- enhanced by a thin layer of corrosion filling any gap -- might have made an effective seal.

    Top image: Part of the Chinese treasure hoard found in the past year at the Sanxingdui Ruins in a number of sacrifice pits. This bronze statue with a zun drinking vessel on top of it is considered to be important enough to request UNESCO World Heritage Status.

    Archaeologists exploring sacrifice pits in a 3,000-year-old ruin have unveiled a Chinese treasure hoard consisting of over 1000 relics of supreme cultural importance. However, the most important artifact in this Chinese treasure hoard is a singular, and massive bronze figure. It has been deemed important enough that the site is applying for UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Status.

    The Sanxingdui Ruins in Southwest China's Sichuan Province are not only the most famous archaeological discovery in China, but according to a recent Global Times article, &ldquoin the world.&rdquo First discovered in 1929, the Sanxingdui site, which dates back to the Bronze Age, represents the largest elite site ever found in the Sichuan Basin.

    Now, archaeologist exploring the site&rsquos ancient sacrifice pits have unearthed a Chinese treasure hoard of enormous value, including hundreds of ivory and bronze artifacts, and a massive bronze god statue that is so important that the entire site might be given world heritage status.

    Though not from this year’s Chinese treasure hoard, this Sanxingdui Ruins site bronze head wearing a gold foil mask is considered to be exceptional, and of great importance.

    The Chinese Treasure Hoard: Ivory, Bronze, Gold and Jade

    Dating back to the Xia (c. 2,070 BC-c. 1,600 BC) and Shang (c. 1,600 BC-1,046 BC) dynasties, the discoveries at Sanxingdui have been featured in an animated film, several documentaries, books and computer games.

    As of May 2020, &ldquo534 important cultural artifacts&rdquo made of ivory, bronze, gold and jade ware have been unearthed from the site. Furthermore, around 2,000 broken relics, including a gold mask, were found in a series of six sacrificial pits.

    As if this priceless Chinese treasure hoard wasn&rsquot enough for one year, in Pit 3, a &ldquo1.15 meters [3.8 feet] high, 3,000-year-old bronze figure was discovered with a zun, (ancient wine vessel) on top of the head.&rdquo According to Global Times, this single artifact is being described as an &ldquounprecedented cultural relic,&rdquo on a global scale.

    This bronze altar previously unearthed at the Sanxingdui Ruins site consists of 3 levels: the bottom level is a circular base bearing a pair of fabulous animals, on the second level are 4 standing human figures supporting hills on their heads. The top lev

    Learning From The Sacred Bronze Statue&rsquos Dragon Zun Vessel

    Tang Fei, dean of the Sichuan Provincial Cultural Relics and Archeology Research Institute, told the Global Times that his team has now removed almost all of the ivory relics from the pits and they are now focusing on the rare bronze statue. The upper part comprises a 55-centimeter-high (22-inch-high) broad mouthed bronze zun drinking vessel with dragon-shaped decorations , while the lower part is a 60 centimeter-tall (22-inch-tall) kneeling figure with something in its hands.

    Further bronze-made relics were found buried underneath the layer of ivory relics , and Dr Tang told CCTV on Friday that these bronze figures reflect &ldquosacrifice in the spiritual world of the ancient Shu civilization.&rdquo For this reason, he calls the discovery of the statue &ldquoa national treasure-level cultural relic.&rdquo

    Already, as a result of the excavations of these sacrifice pits at the Sanxingdui Ruins site, archaeologists now know that fine silks were votively offered by members of the ancient dynasty, Tang said.

    As of late May 2021, more than 1,000 important cultural relics have been unearthed at the Sanxingdui Ruins. This newly discovered golden mask from the site is under restoration, officials said at a recent global promotion event.

    Tracing The Origins Of The Chinese Relic Makers

    The Sanxingdui civilization was located in the Huaxia Fringe zone and as early as the Neolithic period it was connected with Qinghai-Tibet Plateau cultures . Later the region was connected with the ancient Silk Road to the northwest, therefore it was also connected with the coast of China.

    Dr Tang says the ancient Sanxingdui civilization has the characteristics &ldquoof the integration of Eastern and Western civilizations&rdquo and he theorizes that the culture was most likely based on the traditional Central Plains civilization and its prominent Bashu culture, as well as being influenced by the other ancient civilizations that surrounded it.

    China often gets a bad rap for its draconian social control and inability to work with the rest of the world, but in this instance, according to Zhu Yarong, deputy curator of the Sanxingdui Museum, relics from the Sanxingdui Ruins are to be found in 21 countries.

    And now, in a further display of international spirit, the Sanxingdui Ruins will soon become a major new &ldquointernational tourism site&rdquo said Luo Qiang, vice-governor of Sichuan Province.

    The mysterious Sanxingdui actually confirmed the ancient legend?

    Chinanews client, Beijing, March 24th (Reporter Song Yusheng) There is no shortage of legends in the land of Shu. Recently, these long-lived legends have echoed the new archaeological discoveries at Sanxingdui site. So, do the archaeological discoveries of Sanxingdui coincide with the records of later generations? How many of these legends are true? Bronze head with gold mask, unearthed in

    Chinanews client, Beijing, March 24th (Reporter Song Yusheng) There is no shortage of legends in the land of Shu.

    Recently, these long-lived legends have echoed the new archaeological discoveries at Sanxingdui site.

    So, do the archaeological discoveries of Sanxingdui coincide with the records of later generations?

    How many of these legends are true?

    Bronze head with gold mask, unearthed in 1986 at No. 2 Sacrifice Pit of Sanxingdui Site.

    Photo courtesy of Sanxingdui Museum

    Has the ancient Shu king ever become immortal?

    "Hey, the danger is high! The difficulty of the road of Shu, it is difficult to go to the blue sky! The silkworm and the Yufu, how lost is the founding of the country! You are forty-eight thousand years old, and you don't live with Qin Sai."

    Li Bai talked about the past of Shu at the beginning of his masterpiece "The Difficulty of Shu Road".

    However, these descriptions have an obvious literary color, in which traces of the legends of the Shu area at that time can be seen, but also exaggerated.

    Among the documents that people know about today, the legendary stories of Shu in the pre-Qin period are nothing more than "Benji of the King of Shu" and "The History of Huayang" and other books.

    Based on the records of these documents, the first Shu king was called "Can Cong", the later Shu king was called "Bai Yi" (a "Bai Guan"), and the next Shu king was called "Yu Fu".

    This is exactly what Li Bai called the "founding" king of Shu in "The Difficulty of Shu Road"-"Can Cong and Yu Fu".

    Fragment of the golden mask, unearthed at Sanxingdui site.

    Photo courtesy of Jinsha Site

    What's interesting is that the descriptions of these Shu kings in the literature are quite mythical, like Yufu, who "becomes a god".

    For example, in "The History of Huayang Kingdom", after the death of Can Cong, he was buried in a stone coffin while the king of Yufu "suddenly got the path of immortality."

    The "Benji of the King of Shu" is even more miraculous. It says that the three generations of Cancong, Baiyi, and Yufu all lived for hundreds of years, and "all were deified and immortal."

    At the same time, the book also wrote about Yufu "Dexian".

    Although the mythological description is not true history, it also casts layers of mist on the past of Shu and adds a mysterious color.

    These legends may be true

    So, are these ancient books that record the story of Shu land unreliable?

    In fact, scholars have speculated that the Sanxingdui site was in the Yufu period.

    The archaeology of Sanxingdui also confirmed some legendary content to a certain extent, such as "Zongmu".

    The most representative giant longitudinal-eye bronze face in Sanxingdui cultural relics.

    Photo by Du Jia Source: Visual China

    "Huayang Guozhi" mentioned that the silkworm Cong was "its eyes".

    For a long time, it was difficult for later generations to understand such expressions in the literature. It was not until the unearthed cultural relics such as the Zongmu bronze human face in Sanxingdui that everyone had an intuitive understanding.

    This bronze human face not only has a cylindrical eyeball shape, but also clearly protrudes beyond the eye socket.

    Related research believes that this obviously has the characteristics of "longitudinal".

    In the cultural relics found in Sanxingdui, there is no shortage of exaggerated eyes.

    It can be seen that the so-called "Zongmu" is not a source of water.

    In addition, the communication between the ancient Shu area and the outside world is also confirmed to a certain extent by archaeological objects.

    Cultural relics in the "sacrifice pit".

    According to the literature, during the Shang and Zhou dynasties, the land of Shu had already communicated with the Central Plains.

    Judging from the archaeological results, it should be true.

    Ran Honglin, the person in charge of the archaeological excavation site at the Sanxingdui site, made it clear at the ventilation meeting held on the 20th that a series of artifacts, such as bronze statues, copper lizards, and Yu Ge unearthed at the Yinxu ruins, can be found in the Sanxingdui site with similar shapes, which can be reflected. Its connection with business culture.

    Thus, it can be seen that the statement of "not communicating with Qin Sai" in Li Bai's poems is not historical fact.

    These records need to be verified

    Compared with the literature, what other guesses can we have about the history of ancient Shu?

    In the archaeology of Sanxingdui, a question that everyone is very concerned about is whether there are any texts in Sanxingdui?

    According to the documents that can be seen today, the ancient Shu people "do not know words."

    At the archaeological level, although no text has been discovered so far, Ran Honglin once revealed that archaeologists have found carved symbols on many pottery.

    He also tends to think that Sanxingdui "has signs of writing."

    However, whether cultural relics with written text can be found requires further archaeological excavations.

    Archaeologists are working at the excavation site.

    In an interview with the media, Lei Yu, director of the Sanxingdui Site Workstation of the Sichuan Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, said frankly that such a developed bronze civilization should have written words.

    He guessed that maybe the words of the ancient Shu people were written on wood or on organic materials such as silk, silk, and silk, which are now completely destroyed.

    On the 23rd, experts inferred that Sanxingdui No. 4 pit was about 3,200 to 3,000 years ago, and belongs to the late Shang Dynasty.

    As the mystery is uncovered step by step, the obliterated history more than 3,000 years ago may soon be seen again.

    Reference materials: "The History of Huayang Kingdom", "The Benji of the King of Shu", "The General History of Chinese Culture", "The Elaboration of Ancient History of Bashu", "The Discrimination of Ancient History", "Out of the Era of Doubtful Ancient Times", "The Book of the King of Shu" and the Legend of Ancient Shu by Yang Xiong

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