Archaeologists have made major discoveries in the Jinsha ruins in the western suburbs of Chengdu, the capital city of Southwest China's Sichuan Province.
Late last month, they discovered new pits with piles of ivory and jade ware. More than 20 pieces of carved ivory -- most of which were cake-shaped with sharp edges pointing south -- were unearthed. The ivory retained their original color when excavated.
The pit was used for sacrificial activities by ancestors of the Sichuan people, said Zhu Zhangyi, director of the Jinsha Work Station of the Chengdu Archaeological Team.
In the second pit, 24 pieces of jade were discovered -- such as jade tablets, chisels, axes, bracelets and bi (a round flat piece of jade with a hole in its center which was used by kings and emperors in memorial ceremonies).
The largest bi was 24 centimeters in diameter. Its surface was very smooth, almost as if it had been made with a modern machine.
The bi is believed to be the largest ever discovered in the country and it is important to the study of memorial ceremonies in ancient Sichuan, archaeologists said.
In addition to ivory and jade, a profusion of buck-teeth and antlers have been found. Together with the ivory, they must have belonged to 500 elephants, 1,500 boars and 1,000 deer slaughtered at a major memorial ceremony, archaeologists said.
Archaeologists believe most of the animals lived in neighboring regions. The ivory, antlers and buck teeth will serve as important materials for the study of local geography, climate and environment in ancient times.
In an area of more than 1,000 square meters, archaeologists have discovered a large gravel layer and two man-made short arc walls. Archaeologists believe that they were originally constructed as round and the construction might have formed a square for ancient Sichuan people. The area of the square is expected to be 4,000 square meters and its size is reminiscent of the ancient Roman arena.
The Jinsha ruins were discovered accidentally in February last year when workers were building roads. Since then, the Chengdu Archaeological Team has excavated many precious relics, including gold, bronze, jade, stoneware and ivory. Most of them date back 3,000 years.
Many of the relics bear strong resemblance to those at Sanxingdui, 40 kilometers from Chengdu. Archaeologists think the Jinsha ruins are likely to be the political and cultural center of the Shu Kingdom, which moved from Sanxingdui to Chengdu following the sudden demise of Sanxingdui culture about 3,000 years ago.
Archaeologists have hailed the Jinsha ruins as the first major archaeological find in the new century and one of Sichuan's most important archaeological finds following the discovery of the Sanxingdui ruins in 1929.
Since Sanxingdui was discovered, more than 10,000 relics have been unearthed. Some of the relics date back 3,000 to 5,000 years. The Sanxingdui ruins offer convincing proof that the origins of Chinese civilization are diverse, archaeologists said.
Before the discovery of Sanxingdu, which is located in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, it was generally accepted that the Yellow River Valley was the sole origin of Chinese civilization.
(China Daily October 8, 2002)