The remains of a golden mask are among a huge cache of 3,000-year-old artifacts found at an archaeological site in Sichuan Province, China.
The finds were found in Sanxingdui, an area of 4.6 square miles outside the provincial capital of Chengdu. Some experts say the items may shed more light on the ancient state of Shu, a kingdom that ruled the Western Sichuan Basin until it was conquered in 316 BC.
A recently discovered bronze piece from an offering pit at the Sanxingdui archaeological site. Attribute to him: Lee Hee / Xinhua / Ciba USA
More than 50,000 ancient artifacts have been found in Sanxingdui since the 1920s, when a local farmer stumbled upon a number of relics at the site. A major breakthrough occurred in 1986, with the discovery of two ceremonial pits containing more than 1,000 items, including elaborate and well-preserved bronze masks.
The gold tracery was among more than 500 other objects recently discovered from the site. Attribute to him: Newsletter / Xinhua / Ciba USA
After a long excavation hiatus, a third crater was found in late 2019, resulting in five more pits being discovered last year. Experts believe that the pits were used for sacrificial purposes, explaining why many ritual items were burned while they were thrown and buried.
It is believed that Sanxingdui was located in the heart of Shu Prefecture, which historians know relatively little about due to scarce written records. Finds made at the site date back to the 12th and 11th centuries BC, and many items are now displayed in a museum on site.
The site revolutionized experts’ understanding of how civilization developed in ancient China. In particular, evidence of the unique Shu culture indicates that the kingdom developed independently of neighboring societies in the Yellow River Valley, which was traditionally considered the cradle of Chinese civilization.
An archaeologist was photographed working on a dig earlier this month. Attribute to him: Shin Bohan / Sinhua / Sebausa
The latest discoveries “enrich and deepen our understanding of Sanchengdui culture,” Deputy Director of the National Administration of Cultural Heritage Song Xinchao told the state-run Xinhua News Agency.
The discovery of silk fibers and textile remnants may broaden our understanding of Shu. The head of the excavation team and head of the Sichuan Provincial Cultural Relics and Archeology Research Institute, Tang Fei, said at a press conference that the find indicates that the kingdom “was an important asset of silk in ancient China,” according to Xinhua. .
A bronze head and mask from Sanxingdui was uncovered in 1986, when the first sacrificial pits were found at the site. Attribute to him: Xin Bohan / Xinhua / Ciba USA
Top image caption: A golden mask was discovered from an offering pit at the Sanxingdui Ruins Site in Sichuan Province, China.