BEIJING--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Chinese archaeologists announced on Saturday that some new major discoveries have been made at the legendary Sanxingdui Ruins site in southwest China, helping shed light on the cultural origins of the Chinese nation.
Archaeologists have found six new sacrificial pits and unearthed more than 500 items dating back about 3,000 years at the Sanxingdui Ruins in Sichuan Province, the National Cultural Heritage Administration (NCHA) announced in the provincial capital Chengdu.
Over 500 precious cultural relics discovered
Ranging from 3.5 to 19 square meters, these six sacrificial pits, which were discovered from November 2019 to May 2020, are in rectangular shape, according to NCHA. Among them, pits No.3, No.4, No.5 and No.6 have been excavated to the utensil layer so far, while pits No.7 and No.8 are being backfilled.
Together they form an area in which people of the ancient Shu civilization offered sacrifices to heaven, Earth and their ancestors, and prayed for prosperity and peace, according to Tang Fei, head of the excavation team at Sanxingdui and chief of the Sichuan Provincial Cultural Relics and Archaeology Research Institute.
The discoveries have shown the distinctiveness of the Shu civilization and the diversity of the Chinese civilization, said Ran Honglin, another researcher with the institute.
In addition, over 500 pieces of important cultural relics have been unearthed from these six pits, including the fragments of gold masks, bird-shaped gold ornaments, gold foil, painted bronze head portraits, giant bronze masks, bronze sacred tree, ivory, fragments of exquisite tooth carvings, jade cong and jade tools.
A gold mask has been unearthed at the No.5 sacrificial pit. With an area of about three square meters, it is the smallest pit, but it's where the most gold pieces were unearthed, according to archaeologists.
During the process, archaeologists have made full use of modern scientific and technological means to build an archaeological excavation cabin, integrated excavation platform and multi-functional excavation operation system.
With the support of professional teams of multiple disciplines and institutions, they have formed an integrated work mode combining traditional archaeology, laboratory archaeology, technological archaeology as well as the protection of cultural relics. The combination will ensure the high quality and high level of archaeological work, NCHA said at the conference.
Meanwhile, the NCHA has identified the "Research on the Civilization Process of Bashu in Sichuan-Chongqing Region" as a major program of the "Archaeological China" project, aiming to conduct in-depth study on the evolution of civilization in the region and its integration into the overall cultural landscape of the pluralistic unity of the Chinese nation.
Located in the city of Guanghan, some 40 kilometers from Sichuan's provincial capital Chengdu, the Sanxingdui Ruins site is regarded one of the most important archaeological discoveries in the 20th century. The excavation has lasted for nearly 100 years since the first discovery in the late 1920s.
In 1986, archaeologists found two large-scale sacrificial pits dating back to the Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BC). Thousands of rare treasures were discovered from the two pits.