ZHENGZHOU, March 30 (Xinhua) -- Archaeologists in central China's Henan Province have discovered ruins dating back around 5,000 years, believed to be a temple in the shape of the Big Dipper.
The excavation at the Qingtai ruins in the city of Xingyang was listed Thursday as one of the top five archaeological discoveries in the province in 2017.
Nine ceramic pots are laid out in the shape of the Big Dipper, with a round sacrificial altar at the eastern side, said Wei Qingli, a researcher with Zhengzhou cultural heritage institute.
In ancient China, the Big Dipper was composed of seven "visible" stars and two "invisible" ones, probably nearby Messier objects.
A human skeleton showing signs of unnatural death and three funeral urns were found around the altar.
"The discovery shows that people had some astronomic knowledge and an established ritual ceremonial pattern in the shape of the Big Dipper," Wei said.
Qingtai ruins are one of the examples of Neolithic Yangshao culture.
Ruins of a mud-brick house were also found, the earliest such house ever found in central China, indicating prehistoric humans had started using construction materials.
A cluster of 189 tombs was also excavated. Wood coffins were mostly used and the corpses had apparently been wrapped before burial, he said.