(ORDO NEWS) — During ongoing research at the Sanxingdui archaeological sites in China’s Sichuan province, scientists have discovered finds that may indicate that the ancient Chinese communicated with spirits and deities. Intentionally broken artifacts made of expensive materials, according to scientists, indicate that people sacrificed them during religious rituals, the Xinhua news agency reported.
Two pits at this site were discovered in the 1980s, and six more have been excavated since 2020. Archaeologists have unearthed a total of 13,000 artifacts here that date back to the Bronze Age, that is, to a period of 4,500 to 3,000 years ago.
Among the finds are a bronze sculpture of a snake with a human head, a bronze box with jade inside, golden masks, a bronze altar, and a large number of other artifacts.
“The sculptures found here are complex and imaginative, reflecting the fairy tale world that people imagined at that time, and show the diversity and richness of Chinese civilization,” said Zhao Hao, assistant professor at Peking University and head of the excavation at one of the Sanxingdui quarries.
Chen Shen, senior curator at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, notes that the first finds in 1986 were a discovery in the world of archeology. Now scientists have managed to add many new artifacts to the old collection.
Shen emphasizes that no evidence of human burials has been found during the entire period of research at this site, which suggests that the pits were probably not burial pits. However, the creation of pits and the addition of artifacts may have served a ritual purpose.
Some of the finds found in the pits were deliberately burned or broken in antiquity.
The deliberate destruction and burning of very valuable materials such as jade and bronze shows us that this was not an accidental or wanton destruction.
The bronze was so valuable – especially because it could be melted down and reused – that it tells us that the destruction of these images served an important ritual purpose.
As in other human societies, ritual destruction and burning is often associated with a hallowed passage or communion with a world beyond our own.
Then these burials of artifacts may have been an attempt to lead this society through crises under the guidance or help of otherworldly forces, ”says Jay Xu, CEO of the Museum of Asian Art in San Francisco.
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