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Archeological news in brief
Last Updated(Beijing Time):2004-06-05 11:06
The following are major archeological news briefs of the week:

Villager unearths ancient cooking vessel at home

A farmer in the northwest China province of Shaanxi recently unearthed in his own courtyard a bronze cooking vessel that was believed to date back nearly 3,000 years.

The antique, 80 centimeters tall, 55 kilograms in weight and with designs of "taotie" -- a mythical ferocious animal -- on its neck, was discovered by Luo Fushe, a villager in Wugong county on the outskirts of Xianyang city, close to the provincial capital Xi'an.

Cultural heritage workers later unearthed stone axes, grinders,bricks, antlers, animal bones and pieces of pottery from Luo's courtyard, which experts believe was already a fixed abode for Chinese forefathers in the Western Zhou Dynasty (11 cent.-771 BC) in the remote periods of history.

Luo was awarded 5,000 yuan (602 US dollars) by the local cultural heritage administration for reporting the discovery.

Ancient tombs uncovered in central China province

Archeologists have found at least five ancient tombs in Changdecity, central China's Hunan Province, with abundant sacrificial objects inside.

All the tombs, discovered by construction workers at the DeshanValve Company, are around 2,000 years old, with the oldest dating back to the Warring States Period (475 - 221 BC) and the youngest,to the Eastern Han Dynasty (24 - 220 AD).

Experts assume the tombs, which contain pottery pieces, bronze mirrors and other ritual objects buried with the deceased, belong to civilians.

The discovery was of significant value because it would providenew evidence to researchers on the economic development and folklore in the city in history, as more than 1,000 tombs from thesame period had been reported there so far, said Long Chaobin, associate researcher with the Chengde municipal museum.

Tomb of man and wife discovered in eastern province

A tomb with skeletons of a man and his wife was unearthed recently in the east China province of Anhui.

The tomb, more than 1,500 years old and with dainty porcelain dishes inside, was one of the youngest of altogether 14 tombs discovered in Fanchang county during an ongoing construction to expand the county's highroad.

The three oldest tombs date back to the Warring States Period (475-221 BC).

Officials with the local cultural heritage authority said the sacrificial objects unearthed from the tombs, which included bronze, pottery pieces and fine porcelain utensils, mirrored the different stages of social and economic development in history.

China works to protect ancient temples in northern province

China's cultural heritage administration has started to renovate a cluster of centuries-old temples in Houshan in Hebei Province, in an effort to restore the former glory of these landmark buildings where emperors used to worship heaven in the remote periods of the country's recorded history.

The Houshan culture, centered in Yixian county, some 10 kilometers from an imperial mausoleum, features more than 50 palaces and temples and has aroused attention from worldwide scholars in recent years for its wide influence on the traditionalChinese culture.

Most of the ancient structures have legends behind them, telling how legendary figures including the Yan and Yellow emperors used to worship heaven there.

Civilians used to gather at these temples every year in the third month of the Chinese lunar calendar, to worship their ancestors, according to these legends.

The central and local governments have invested heavily to renovate these buildings, which were damaged badly in history.

Research shows salt was lifeline in history

Salt was for a time the lifeline for social and economic development in today's Three Gorges' Dam area of the Yangtze River,China's longest, said researchers after a recent tour to ancient salt processing centers in the area.

The researchers, including archeologists and historians, have collected enough cultural heritage items and specimens to explain how salt was processed and distributed in the region in history.

"Many wars were fought in the area over the control of salt resources," said Wang Chuanping, an official in charge of archeological excavation and heritage protection in the region.

Salt has always been the lifeline in China's history, said Prof.Ge Jianxiong with the Shanghai-based Fudan University. "Whoever controls salt has the power to decide his own fate and that of allothers," he said.

The Three Gorges' Dam area, where brine springs abound, used tobe a center for salt processing and distribution. Experts have unearthed a huge amount of chinaware pieces in the region, which they believe were used for salt processing and storage.

"The rich salt resources in the Three Dams also helped the great ruler Ying Zheng, the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty (221 -207 BC), to unify six rival states into one country and establish a form of government which had a lasting influence on Chinese feudalism," said Prof. Ge.

Archeologists have been racing against time to rescue cultural relics facing submersion under the Three Gorges Reservoir, turningthe area into the world's biggest archeological worksite.

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