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In the 1980s, the finds at Sanxingdui, Guanghan in southwest China’s Sichuan Province shocked the whole Chinese archaeological circles. Though much about the cultural ruins still remains mist-shrouded, the Sanxingdui Ruins has managed to bring modern people closer to the immemorial but brilliant ancient civilization in Sichuan, which had been only sporadically recorded in historical literature.
Archaeologists have tried to identify the origin of the Sanxingdui Ruins, with mixed conclusions. Spanning around two millennia (from c. 2800 BCE to c. 800 BCE), the Sanxingdui culture corresponds to the late Neo-Lithic Age and the Bronze Age in China. Among the excavations are bronze utensils, whose counterparts are available at other cultural sites in central China regions – often considered the cradle and heartland of Chinese civilization. Judging from the excavated site arrangements and house remains, agriculture, animal husbandry, architecture and handicraft, all essential conditions for a civilized society, had developed by that time. It suggests that the Yangtze River regions are another source of Chinese civilization.
Top Two Treasure Relics from Sanxingdui
The human statue measures 2.62m and is the world’s biggest and best preserved bronze upright human figure.
The bronze divine tree, 4m-plus high, bears testimony to the advanced bronze casting technology of Sichuan regions.
The discovery of Sanxingdui greatly upgraded the knowledge about the history of civilization in the region, upsetting the long-held view that compared with central China, the regions of Sichuan had used to be more self-closed, with little contacts with central China regions. Some weapons and bronze wares have been found in the burial pits, which had apparently been taken from Shang Dynasty aristocratic generals as spoils of war. Other relics like a tusk and seashells suggest the region probably had contact with Southeast Asian countries.
The bronze casting technology of the Sanxingdui culture proved fairly remarkable. A life-size standing human statue and a bronze tree with birds, flowers and ornaments are the most representative relics of Sanxingdui culture. Other excavated items such as jade carvings and pottery boast a rich variety and advanced craftsmanship and skills.
Cultural relics unearthed from Sanxingdui amount to over 400, all of whom are now kept at The Sanxingdui Museum.
A bronze mask, probably used at sacrificial rituals. The image with protruding eyes is a defining symbol of Sanxingdui culture.
A sun-shaped jade carving, probably used at sacrificial rituals. The shape is widely found in other carved items of Sanxingdui, suggesting a sun-worship.
A gold wand, probably the symbol of authority held by certain kings, like in many other civilizations found in ancient Greece, Babylon, etc.
Jade cavrings from Sanxingdui feature the most exquisite design details.