Three thousand year-old artefacts unearthed that could re-write Chinese history

    2022-07-27 by ITV News

    It was a privilege to see first-hand, relics crafted more than three thousand years ago.

    The artefacts we saw on display at Sanxingdui in southern China were remarkable, not only because of their age, but their intricate detail that has survived for so long underground.

    The first pit was discovered here almost one hundred years ago but it was an excavation which began in 2020 that has provided some long-awaited answers about the Shu Kingdom, a mysterious civilisation whose relics could re-write Chinese history.

    Their existence and the vast treasure trove they left behind challenges some of the narratives about the dominant populations in Chinaat that time.

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    Many items still have their original gold and are made with a level of skill and quality which exceeds anything else recovered in the country from the same period.

    Three years ago, six new sacrificial pits were discovered and so far, thirteen thousand ancient artefacts have been unearthed. Archaeologists believe there could be more to come.

    More than three thousand objects were uncovered almost completely intact. They are mostly made of bronze and jade, but gold and ivory were used in some of the most unique articles.

    With almost no written records of the time, historians are still unclear about what purpose they were used for but believe they were religious or ceremonial in nature. With each new find they shed more light on the people who crafted these magnificent items.

    Kneeling figures suggest the Shu people had a religion and Indian seashells used as currency suggest a link with neighbouring nations.

    There are experts from almost every scientific field involved in the analysis of the pits and they are using the most advanced restoration techniques ever deployed in a Chinese dig. The teams were working in temperature-controlled units to help preserve each piece as it is being examined and then removed for cleaning and microscopic investigation.

    Technology such as 3-D scanning, x-ray and infrared analysis have allowed them to understand more not just about the relics themselves but the soil and environment in which they were found.

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    That has provided new information on everything from what kind of animals the people kept, to what the weather was like thousands of years ago.

    They have even been able to establish that the Shu people also wore silks.

    Those working on this project say it is no exaggeration to describe Sanxingdui as a new Wonder in the World.

    It gives us an incredible insight into Bronze Age culture.

    The site is already home to one of the largest archaeological puzzles in China, and they are still finding missing links.