3,000-year-old rock painting cluster discovered in Qinghai
Findings shed light on ‘early human activities’
Published: Jun 03, 2024 11:34 PM
Photo: China Central Television

Photo: China Central Television

A cluster of rock paintings from more than 3,000 years ago were discovered in the Hainan Tibetan autonomous prefecture in Northwest China's Qinghai Province last week.

Located in Guinan county, the rock paintings were found scattered and engraved on a local rock mountain. In ­total, these ancient artworks cover an area of around 1,000 square meters. 

Archaeologist Chen Hurong told the Global Times that these rock paintings were likely created by "ancient people to document their everyday activities." Chen also clarified that they were produced during the Bronze Age in China. 

"They seem like artworks to us, but I believe ancient people were drawing on rocks in the same way we write in diaries to document our everyday agendas," Chen told the Global Times. 

Wang Zhancun, the lead archaeologist on the project, said that these discovered rock paintings shed light on the "early human activities" in the area. 

Although some of the engraved patterns on rock appeared to be weathered, more than 10 animal drawings are still very clear. Some of these animals are long-necked, four-legged and carry clear features such as horns belonging to animals like sheep. 

Archaeologist Qu Fulin told the ­Global Times that instead of "sheep," these animals are more likely to be "yak or deer" as similar designs have been previously found on cliffs in the province. 

In 2021, a total of 191 rock paintings were discovered in the Yushu Tibetan autonomous prefecture in Qinghai Province. Including animal designs such as deer and human figures, archaeologists discovered that this batch of rock paintings depicted the migration trajectory of ancient people in the area. 

Back to 2018, another 609 rock ­paintings from 2,000 years ago were also discovered in Qinghai Province. 

"Qinghai Province is known as the prolific home of petroglyphs. Some of these rock artworks have already been identified as belonging to the ancient Qiang ethnic people," Qu emphasized. 

The 2024 rock art cluster was discovered during the fourth national survey of cultural relics that was started in November 2023. 

The national survey is dedicated to examining the conservation efforts and conditions of immovable cultural relics across the country. 

The survey, which will take place over three phases between November 2023 and June 2026, will gather information on the names, locations, categories, protection levels, and preservation circumstances of immovable cultural relics across the country.