In north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region archeologists have excavated jade artifacts dating back more than 8,000 years, the earliest discovered in China.
The priceless relics were discovered during excavations around the Xinglonggou Ruins of Aohan Banner in Chifeng City, and their discovery was one of the pinnacles of achievement for archeological research in the region in 2001.
Of particular interest is the discovery of an ancient funeral custom in which jade was imbedded into one of the eye sockets of the dead before they were buried.
No one can yet explain why this was done. One theory is that the jade pieces may have been ear adornments previously but were moved into the eye socket later to brighten the eyes of the dead who might have suffered from eye disease.
Also of interest were 296 clam-shell artifacts excavated from an ash pit, showing contact and ancient cultural exchanges between Inner Mongolia and central China.
Another find was the country's earliest sculpture. Made of red clay, the finely-designed pottery sculpture consists of three women group closely together.
In the Dong Ujimqin Banner on the Xilin Gol Plain, archeologists have also found ruins of a cave inhabited by ancientpeople about 100,000 years ago.
Excavations in the cave uncovered not only fossils of wild horses, wooly rhinoceros, wild deer and camels, but also the remains of a fire.
As most of the fossils were from wild horses experts believe that the ancient people living on the plain may have survived by hunting wild horses.
(People's Daily February 21, 2002)