Weekly snapshot of China's archaeological news

Source: Xinhua| 2019-03-23 18:14:29|Editor: Li Xia
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BEIJING, March 23 (Xinhua) -- The following are highlights of China's key archaeological news from the past week:

-- 143,000 relics found in ancient shipwreck

Chinese archaeologists have found 143,000 relics from a cargo ship dating back to the Song Dynasty (960-1279) that was salvaged in the South China Sea in 2007.

Archaeologists estimated that the total number of relics might exceed 160,000 pieces, including porcelain products, gold, silver, copper and iron relics and copper coins.

Bamboo and wooden lacquers and preserved remains of plants and animals have also been recovered from the ship.

The remains of the ship body measure 22.1 meters long and 9.35 meters wide. Archaeologists believe it is one of the largest and best-preserved Song Dynasty ocean-going merchant trade ships ever discovered.

Since its salvage, the ship has been moved to the Maritime Silk Road Museum in Yangjiang city of southeast China's Guangdong Province, where it has been preserved in seawater and sand in its original state, as it had been for hundreds of years on the sea bed.

-- Large prehistoric stone architecture discovered in Xinjiang

Archaeologists recently discovered an ancient stone architecture dating back around 3,000 years in Nilka County in Kazak Autonomous Prefecture of Ili, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

The stone platform is around 120 square meters, surrounded by polished stones. Stone walls and ashes mixed with coal blocks, as well as pottery, stone artifacts and animal bones were unearthed within the platform.

The platform is the largest and best-preserved prehistoric stone structure ever found in Xinjiang.

The structure is part of the Jartai Pass Site, which dates back to 1,600 BC to 1,000 BC. Seventeen house sites, two kiln sites, two tombs, as well as 200 sites of ash pits, coal piles and smelters, and more than 1,000 items have been discovered at the site.

-- Ruins of ancient imperial palace gate found

A gate of the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534) imperial palace in the city of Luoyang, the dynasty's capital, has been found in central China's Henan Province.

Archaeologists discovered the rammed earth foundation of the gate in 2018, but most of its above-ground parts no longer exist, according to Liu Tao with the Institute of Archaeology under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, leader of the excavation project.

Liu added that the ruins were later confirmed to be the remains of the western gate of Taiji Hall, the imperial palace's main hall.

Historical records show that officials in the Northern Wei Dynasty used to park their sedan chairs and carriages outside the gate before they entered the Taiji Hall to meet the emperor.

Excavation of the imperial place is still underway, and archaeologists are working to further protect the relics.

Luoyang has a history of some 3,000 years and was the capital of 13 dynasties in ancient China.

-- Tombs found years ago belong to disappeared minority

Forty-nine tombs found years ago in southwest China's Guizhou Province are likely to belong to a minority that has disappeared in modern times, archaeologists said.

The tombs, found in 2011 in the village of Yangjiazhai in Nayong County, dated back to the mid to late Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

A total of 92 sets of artifacts have been excavated, mainly jewelry and decoration such as headbands, earrings, beads and buttons.

The pattern and design of the artifacts are different from those found in the tombs of ethnic Han or other minorities, indicating the tombs might belong to a minority that used to live near the Nayong River but had no records in local chronicles.