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Three thousand-year-old gold mask was found in China


The 280-gram gold mask, thought to be 3,000 years old, was found at an archeological site in China’s Sichuan province. In addition to the mask, more than 500 valuables were found in the area, including various ornaments made of silk fibers, ivory and green. Scientists say the discovery sheds light on the social and economic life of the Kingdom of Shu, one of the world’s oldest civilizations.

According to China’s official Xinhua news agency, more than 500 artifacts dating back 3,000 years have been found at an archeological site in Sichuan province. Weighing about 280 grams and 84 percent said to be made of gold, the ceremonial mask caused great interest. The discovery was made in Sanxingdui, near the capital of Chengdu province. Experts say the artifacts may shed more light on the ancient Shu dynasty, a kingdom that ruled the western Sichuan Basin until it was conquered in 316 BC.
In addition to the gold mask, archaeologists have unearthed various ivory, jade, and bone ornaments. An unopened wooden box and an owl-shaped bronze bowl were also found during the excavation of six holes, the largest of which was 19 square meters.
But since the 1920s, more than 50,000 antiques have been found in Sanxingdui after a local farmer stumbled upon a number of fossils. Much progress was made in 1986 with the discovery of two ceremonial pits containing more than a thousand items, including well-preserved bronze masks. At the end of 2019, a third hole was found in the area, and five more holes were found last year. Archaeologists say the pits were used for sacrificial purposes and that many of the items inside were burned as a ritual.
Sanxingdui is believed to be located in the center of Shu province, which historians know relatively little about, according to little written records. The discoveries in the area date back to the 12th and 11th centuries BC, and most of the artifacts are now on display in a museum. Archeology, on the other hand, revolutionized the way scientists understood how civilization developed in ancient China. In particular, findings from the Shu culture show that the kingdom developed independently of neighboring societies in the Yellow River Valley, traditionally considered the cradle of Chinese culture. Song Xinchao, deputy director of China’s National Heritage Administration, told the state news agency Xinhua that the latest discovery “has enriched and deepened the understanding of Sanxingdui culture.”
Tang Fei, head of the excavation team and head of the Sichuan Provincial Institute for Cultural Heritage and Archeology, told a news conference that the discovery showed the kingdom was “one of the major silk producers in ancient China.” Although Sanxingdui is not yet recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is on the organization’s “probability list” for future success. Among other archeological sites, Shu is recognized by the United Nations as “a prominent representative of Bronze Age culture in China, East Asia and even the world.”

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