The Sanxingdui ruins are still full of mysteries

(ORDO NEWS) — The discovery of traces of an ancient culture in the last century became one of the largest archaeological sensations of the century. More than two thousand jade and bronze relics dating back to the third millennium BC have been found near the city of Guanghan in the southwest of Sichuan province. The ruins of Sanxingdui are still fraught with mysteries, and the evidence of this is the find of Chinese archaeologists.

Due to the very rough terrain, the tractor could not get to the entrance to the tomb. With the help of a steel cable, the workers moved from its place a seven-ton boulder blocking the passage to the tunnel, finally the way was opened and the expedition began to slowly descend into the tunnel. This took place in the highlands of the eastern Yangtze province.

At a depth of 70 meters, the researchers found themselves in a narrow adit, the air was stale. However, suddenly the passage widened and a spacious hall opened in front of the archaeologists. The light of the lanterns snatched from the pitch darkness the treasures with which the deceased had been supplied to the afterlife. Piles of gold coins, sculptures, and a jade-lined robe that looked like an alien’s spacesuit gleamed dimly.

A rebel in a sarcophagus

Chinese archaeologists are not the first to discover a jade sarcophagus. However, the current find has aroused particular interest among scientists. The fact is that the underground mausoleum belonged to the local ruler Liu-Wu, who lived and died tragically in the second century BC.

In 154 BC. e. in China, a sharp struggle for power flared up. At that time, Emperor Yingdi ruled the 50 millionth Middle Kingdom. He tried to limit the powers of the provincial princelings, who felt themselves to be undivided rulers in their domains. Seven of them dared to challenge the Dragon Throne, raising an armed uprising. About half of China took part in the rebellion against the emperor.

Among them was Liu-Wu, the governor of Chu province. He was a ruthless and dissolute man. The advisers who tried to dissuade him from participating in the mutiny were executed. Civil war broke out. The mighty imperial army went on a military campaign. The emperor’s order was: ruthlessly deal with the rebels. War chariots rolled ahead, followed by hordes of crossbowmen and longsword soldiers. The warriors were wearing leather carapaces, which were covered with a layer of varnish for strength.

The mutiny was brutally suppressed. The Imperial Generalissimo surrounded the rebel army, blocking the supply routes for food. Hunger broke the will of the rebels. Six provincial rulers chose to commit suicide, the seventh was captured and publicly executed.

Liu-Wu was among the six suicides. Wishing to avoid the fate prepared for the defeated commander according to the ancient Chinese proverb “the winner – in the ministers of war, the defeated – in the boiling cauldron”, he, as written in the letters, strangled himself. The method of self-suppression remained unknown to historians.

An interesting fact established by Chinese archaeologists thanks to the latest find: the perjurer Liu-Wu was buried with all the honors. Why? This riddle has to be solved …

The work of archaeologists in the Yangtze province lasted more than ten years. Archaeologists, centimeter by centimeter, moved towards the entrance to the Liu-Wu mausoleum through solid rock, the six-ton ​​boulder was only the last stage. But scientists were more than rewarded for their painstaking and hard work. Next to Liu-Wu’s jade robe lay piles of coins – a total of 176 thousand pieces, an arsenal of weapons, hundreds of jade figurines depicting mainly cicadas and dancers, as well as 200 seals and stamps. They are especially valuable, because, as archaeologists are convinced, they will help to make a lot of clarifications in the political system of Ancient China.

Of particular interest is the stone garment in which Liu-Wu was buried. It is “folded” of four thousand jade plates. Experts say this is the finest sarcophagus ever found. It was partially destroyed and is now being restored.

So far, 40 scaly sarcophagi have been found, most of them poorly preserved. They came into “fashion” in ancient China during the Han dynasty (206 BC – 24th AD. (The most interesting belongs to the ruler Liu-Chen” – since the fall of last year, he is on display in London at the British Museum.

The emergence of the burial “jade” cult is associated with ancient Chinese magic. According to legend, the pale green shimmering jade has a magical effect, giving the deceased eternal life and protecting the corpse from decay. Already at the end of the Stone Age, this mineral was used by the Chinese for crafts and funeral rituals.

The poor people were only put in their mouths with a small jade plate. However, they did not save on the mineral when they buried the emperor or other noble persons – the clergy performing the funeral rite plugged all nine holes on the body of the deceased with jade plugs. Then his body was placed in a robe decorated with jade plates. Precious burial clothes were made in special imperial workshops. Artisans polished the stone and strung the plates on the material using gold or silver thread. The sarcophagus of Liu-Wu was, in addition, decorated with a belt with four buttons of solid gold.

By the way, let us note that the opinion that jade has an embalming effect is erroneous. The bodies of ancient Chinese rulers, which were lined with jade on all sides, completely decayed. Nothing remained of the ashes of Liu-Wu. When scientists opened his sarcophagus, they found only a handful of dust there.


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