The bronze sacrificial altar was found among 13,000 other relics at an archaeological site near the village of Sanxingdui in southwest China’s Sichuan province, CNN reported, citing Chinese state media.
Other interesting finds dating back over 3,000 years include a tortoise-shell box and other artifacts, many of which are made of gold, bronze, and jade. The most striking of the items presented are bronze masks of a characteristic appearance, found in large numbers. Research, however, is still hampered by the fact that no written references to Sanxingdui have been found, and no human remains have been found, so historians still know relatively little about this civilization. It existed on the Yangtze River in parallel with the Xia and Shang cultures in the Yellow River basin, as well as the Ban Chiang culture in Thailand – and with all of them Sanxingdui could maintain cultural ties. Many scholars also believe that the inhabitants of Sanxingdui were part of the ancient Shu kingdom, so the latest finds may shed light on this mysterious civilization that occupied the western part of the Sichuan depression along the upper reaches of the Yangtze River until it was conquered by neighbors in 316 BC .e.
A joint team of archaeologists from the Research Institute of Cultural Relics and Archeology of Sichuan Province, Peking University, Sichuan University and other institutions have been studying six excavations at the site since 2020. Archaeologists have found 3,155 relatively intact relics, including more than 2,000 bronzes and statues, in recent expeditions, according to the Chinese state news agency Xinhua. The researchers described, among other things, a tortoise-shell box made of bronze and jade as one of their most intriguing finds, saying that they had seen such an artifact for the first time. “It would not be an exaggeration to say that this item is one of a kind given its unusual shape, craftsmanship and ingenious design. Although we do not know exactly what this box was used for, it can be assumed that ancient people clearly treasured it, ”said Li Haichao, a professor at Sichuan University.
A nearly meter high bronze altar was also found in one of the pits where Shu people are believed to have made offerings to heaven, earth and their ancestors. The remains of bamboo branches, reeds, soybeans, cattle and wild boars in the pits suggest that they were all sacrificed to some deities.