Around 70 scholars from home and abroad yesterday kicked off their new probe into ancient Chinese civilization along the Yangtze River in Deyang, a city in northern Sichuan Province, southwest China.
The International Academic Seminar on Sanxingdui and Yangtze River Civilization which opened yesterday, has drawn senior researchers from the Chinese mainland, Taiwan, Sweden, the United States, the Republic of Korea and Japan.
Focusing on the Sanxingdui Ruins and the Yangtze civilization, participants have presented papers on relations between Sanxingdui and ancient Sichuan culture, between Sanxingdui and ancient Chinese civilization, between Sanxingdui and civilizations in other parts of the world, and on Sanxingdui and tourism development in western China.
The participants are also exploring the bronze culture of the Yangtze River Delta, development of the regional economy in ancient Sichuan and the archaeology of Sanxingdui and its significance in the field of fine arts.
The three-day forum is sponsored by the Sichuan Provincial Academy of Social Sciences, Sichuan University, the Sichuan Provincial Department of Culture and the Deyang government.
It is the third international seminar on Sanxingdui, said Hao Yuenan, director of the organizing committee of the seminar. The first two were held in 1992 and 2000 in Guanghan, where the Sanxingdui Ruins are located.
Before the excavation of Sanxingdui, it was believed that Sichuan had a history of about 3,000 years.
Thanks to the excavation, "it is now generally believed that civilized culture appeared in Sichuan 5,000 years ago and has continued uninterrupted until today," said Chen Xiandan, deputy curator of the Sichuan Provincial Museum.
The Sanxingdui Ruins, located on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, also serve as convincing proof that the origins of Chinese civilization are diverse.
Archaeologists previously held the Yellow River was the sole origin of Chinese civilization.
"They now believe that Sanxingdui is representative of the ancient Yangtze civilization," Chen said.
The Sanxingdui Ruins were discovered accidentally in 1929 when a local farmer was digging a ditch in his fields. Since the first formal excavation in 1933, the ruins have witnessed the unearthing of more than 10,000 relics dating from 5,000 BC to 3,000 BC. The relics include bronze, gold, jade and marble artifacts, pottery, bone implements and ivory objects.
The excavations have yielded what are considered to be some of the most significant archaeological discoveries in China in the 20th century and have changed the face of Chinese history.
(China Daily October 10, 2003)