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Ancient Knife Proof Longer Chinese Astronomical History

Archaeologists in northwest China's Qinghai province claimed that a 5,000-year-old stone knife with designs of constellations will extend China's history of astronomical observation by 1,000 years.

The finely-polished stone knife, six centimeters long and three centimeters wide, was unearthed at the Lamao Ruins, a New Stone Age site nine kilometers west of Lamao Village in Qinghai.

Archaeologists also unearthed many other relics from the site including pottery pieces, stone and bone tools.

Liu Baoshan, head of the Qinghai Provincial Cultural Relics and Archaeology Research Institute, said seven holes on the stone knife clearly form the Big Dipper and another three holes form the of the Altair.

Liu said China has along history of astronomy. The Collection of Ancient Texts records the world earliest solar eclipse in 2137 BC and there were records of astronomical phenomena during the Xia (2100 BC-1600 BC), Shang (1600 BC-1100 BC) and Zhou (1100 BC-221 BC) dynasties.

Sawtooth on both end of the knife also means that the stone tool is very unique, Liu said. Stone knives with sawtooth have not yet been unearthed in the area.

Liu and his colleagues found that the stone knife had never been used, so they asserted that the knife was possibly a ritual implement used by a holy man.

(Xinhua News Agency March 12, 2005)

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