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The researcher who began digging at an excavation site in China’s Sichuan province in 2019, found more than 500 objects, most of which are made out of gold, bronze, jade, and ivory. Researchers hope that the mask and the other artifacts can answer about the enigmatic Shu civilization.

3,000-Year-Old Gold Mask Uncovered In China
3,000-Year-Old Gold Mask Uncovered In China

The major highlight of the find is a 0.6-pound fragment of the gold mask, that might have been worn by a priest during religious ceremonies and buried along with other valuable objects after the ceremony.

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The mask found is about 84 percent pure gold, and it likely weighed closed to one pound in identity, which makes it one of the heaviest Gold masks from that time period discovered in China to date.

The Sanxingdui team found the golden mask along with other ornate items in six rectangular sacrifice pits. Experts uncovered a third sacrificial pit in 2009 and five more last year. Pit 7 and 8 are being excavated and are currently filled with soil.

Bird shaped gold ornament, 3000 year gold mask
Bird shaped gold ornament

The golden mask was mainly found in the no. 5 sacrificial pit. According to the reports the golden mask has a width of about 23 cm and a height of about 28 cm.

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The large number of artifacts found here suggests that the unknown civilization had a wealthy economy, and it was technologically advanced. The archeological achievements of the Sanxingdui site reflect the important contributions of the ancient Shu civilization and the Yangtze River culture to the Chinese civilization

The experts are unsure about who made the artifacts, but they believe that the cache’s creators belonged to Shu state. A highly skilled civilization that was conquered by its neighboring state of Qin in 316 B.C. The area then became a food production base and helped the state’s ruler Qin Shi Huang to create the first centralized Chinese empire a few decades later.

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However, not much known about the Shu state, because it has no written records, or if there are they haven’t been found. Most information about the Shu State exists only because of literature of legend.

Shu State have remained hidden if it weren’t’s for a farmer who stumbled onto jade and stone artifacts at Sanxugdui while he was repairing a sewage ditch in 1929. His discovery eventually helped researchers uncover more than 50,000 ancient items at the site.

According to the statement from China’s National Cultural Heritage Administration two kinds of silk were found in the sacrificial pit of the Sanxingdui site. The first type was found scattered among the ashes in one of the pits while the second was found wrapped around bronze ware.

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Silk has played an important role in China’s millennia-old history, the silk discovered generally has three contexts; one is a site that reflects religious beliefs, the other is a tomb that reflects funeral costumes, and the third is a sacrificial pit that reflects religious beliefs. So, the fiber was thought to serve “as a carrier and a medium for communication between heaven, earth, man and God.” (the statements are from Google Translate)

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Another key discovery included a bronze square statue, with the beast head on its shoulder exposed. The statue was adorned with depictions of beasts and birds, ivory carvings, and gold ornaments.

It is about 60 centimeters high, with a head of animals and birds on its shoulders. Its whole body is magnificent. This Dakoiuzun is a typical southern-style bronze ware in the late Shang Dynasty.

In addition to the discoveries, dozens of bronze wares, the head of the kneeling man sitting on the top, and the bronze mask were also unearthed in sacrificial pit 3. The bronzes found in pit 3 are much richer than the bronzes of the Central Plains, regardless of the type and shapes.

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The new discoveries at Sanxingdui suggest that the story of Chinese civilization may be more complex than previously thought. “We are more likely a fusion” of different ancient cultures or civilizations, said Shi Jinsong, deputy director of the Institute of Archaeology at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

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