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5,000-year-old cultural relics on show in Beijing
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Cultural relics from a 5,000-year-old ancient kingdom in southwest China on display in Beijing are attracting thousands of tourists worldwide ahead of the Olympic Games.

The exhibition started on Tuesday and runs through August at the Poly Art Museum.

On show are about 140 relics from the Sanxingdui Ruins and the Jinsha Ruins in southwestern Sichuan Province, typical cultural symbols of the ancient Shu Kingdom. They include gold masks, gold sculptures of a human head, gold fish-shaped belts, bronze sculptures of human figures, jade seals with a design of a man carrying an elephant's tusk and a design of insects.

It was the first time the relics from this ancient culture had been displayed here on this scale.

The exhibition, "From Sanxingdui to Jinsha--Treasures from Ancient Shu Kingdom," is jointly organized by the Beijing Municipal Administration of Cultural Heritage and the Sichuan Provincial Bureau of Cultural Relics.

Sharing many similarities, the Sanxingdui and Jinsha ruins are peaks of the ancient Shu culture and represent the two most glorious periods of the Ancient Shu kingdom that suddenly disappeared about 2,000 years ago.

The Sanxingdui Ruins in Guanghan City, about 40 km from the Sichuan provincial capital of Chengdu, covers an area of 12 square km.

Archaeologists there found more than 1,000 relics, including gold masks, bronze wares, jade tablets, elephant tusks and sacred trees. These dated back 4,800 to 2,800 years and were quite different from relics found in other parts of the country. The excavations are ongoing.

Also in the suburbs of Chengdu, the Jinsha Ruins was discovered in 2001. Archaeologists unearthed more than 1,000 precious relics, most of which dated back about 3,000 years.

The relics at the two ruins made archaeologists believe the history of the ancient culture in Sichuan started around 5,000 years ago, much earlier than thought. With lots of bronze articles unearthed, they also pushed the date of China's Bronze Age back by at least 1,100 years.

They also found evidence of exchanges between the ancient Shu culture with other parts of the country and even Asia, breaking the old theory Sichuan was an isolated land in ancient times.

The relics of the ruins are exhibited in two neighboring halls but are connected by a collection of relics from both sites sharing similar characteristics. According to the exhibition organizer, the arrangement aimed to help visitors gain a better understanding of the development of the ancient culture.

(Xinhua News Agency July 31, 2008)

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