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New Discoveries at Jinsha Ruins
An archaeological team working in Chengdu, the capital of China’s southwest Sichuan Province, recently found two deposits of ivory and one of jade artifacts during their second excavation of the Jinsha Ruins. A flat round piece of jade with a hole bored through its center and lined with a red like ‘collarband’ is the largest one of its kind unearthed to date.

Since the Jinsha Ruins, discovered by accident during a construction project last year in the Jinsha Village of the Supo Township in a western suburb of Chengdu, more than 3,000 gold, jade, stone, bronze and ivory relics have been unearthed. These finds have rewritten the history books of Chengdu and Sichuan Province, pushing the record of human activity in this area to more than 3,000 years. The Jinsha Ruins are being hailed as equally as spectacular as the Sanxingdui Ruins, also found in southwest China. The excavation site has been listed as one of the top ten new archaeological discoveries of 2001.

The second examination of what is understood to be sacrificial site started in August this year. After excavating only a few dozen square meters of a 500 square meter area, archaeologists have encountered some extraordinary discoveries. Two piles of ivory tusks were discovered in round pits with their tips aligned in a southward direction. One of these pits contained up to 20 pieces and measured 1.2 meters in diameter. They are believed to be relics of a sacrificial ceremony conducted by Sichuan ascendants. Another deposit contains two tusks as well as other objects fashioned from ivory.

About 10 meters to the south of these ivory finds is a 1.5 square meter deposit of jade. At the center is a flat jade disc the size of a dish. The smooth surface is azure blue fused with pink. A hole has been created in the center and lined with a red ‘collarband’. An archaeologist working on the site, Zhang Qing, described the jade object as having a diameter of 24 centimeters and is thought to be one of the largest such pieces found dating back to this period. There have been four other discoveries of similar size found at the site of the Yin Ruins in Henan Province.

An arrangement of small pebbles was also found at the site of the Jinsha Ruins. The periphery of the site has been marked out by an arrangement of pebbles composing two arcs sitting some three meters away from each other. The center ground is smooth and covered with gravel and red baked clay. Experts say there is no evidence of any buildings on the gravel ground covering an area of 4,000 square meters. Many jade and stone artifacts, oracle shells, and pottery pieces have also been found here, so the site is thought to be related to sacrificial rituals.

Throughout more than a year’s excavation and study, archaeologists have unearthed over 1,000 pieces of ivory here. Such a large deposit of ivory used for sacrificial purposes has never before been found anywhere else in the world. In terms of size, the 10,000 square meter sacrificial area is also unrivalled by any other archaeological discoveries dating back to the same period.

The Jinsha Ruins featuring relics of both the Shang and Zhou dynasties is four meters deep. So far only 1.5 meters have been explored, meaning many more surprises are still likely to come.

(China.org.cn translated by Li Jinhui, September 25, 2002)

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