Chinese roots
Published: Jun 22, 2022 07:06 PM
Sanxingdui Ruins: Revealing exchanges between China's ancient civilizations

Editor's Note:

In early June, Chinese archaeologists published the results of a 20-year-long national program researching the origins of China's more than 5,000-year-long civilization. The results of the project have captured the interest of the public.  

Over the next several weeks, this column will explore the results of the national program and introduce an ancient Chinese civilization each Thursday, digging out the fun facts and stories behind these great findings.

According to the latest announcement by archaeologists in Southwest China's Sichuan Province last week, more relics made of gold, bronze and jade have been unearthed from six sacrificial pits at the Sanxingdui Ruins site. 

Discovered in the late 1920s, its name, literally meaning three stars pile, comes from the fact that there are three loess mounds around the area that are undulating and connected. The thousands of extremely exquisite and exotic cultural relics and antiques unearthed at the Sanxingdui Ruins has caused the site to be regarded as one of the world's most distinguished archaeological finds.

The Sanxingdui Ruins belongs to the civilization known as the ancient Shu Kingdom, which dates back to some 4,500 to 3,000 years ago. 

Most studies on the culture of the Shu Kingdom mainly rely on the discoveries at the site, as no written records by the culture have been found yet.

In the spring of 1929, a farmer found a delicate jade relic while digging a water channel near his home. This single surprise discovery marked the beginning of research into the Sanxingdui Ruins. 

Over the following decades, Chinese archaeological teams have discovered thousands of rare treasures. Among the newest discoveries announced last week are an amazing gold mask and jade knife, bronze standing statues and a turtles-shaped box 

Traces of bamboo and cattle have also been discovered along with these ancient relics. Scholars believed that they were used as offerings in ritual sacrifices. 

For a long time in the past, ancient Sichuan was considered a closed off remote area away from Chinese civilization. Yet the discoveries at the ruins show that cultural exchanges were taking place between the Shu Kingdom and the Central Plains as well as with other cultures in Asia.