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Jinsha Ruins & Museum

Jinsha Ruins
Jinsha Site MuseumLike Sanxingdui Ruins, the Jinsha Ruins were also discovered by accident. On February 8, 2001, several builders from a local real estate development firm were working at a construction site in Jinsha Village. Suddenly they found ivory and jade were amidst the mud dug out by two excavations. Soon the police arrived and closed the site. Since the archaeologists have excavated more than 1,000 precious artifacts made of gold, jade, bronze and stone and nearly one ton of ivory in Jinsha Village, Supo Township, Qingyang District, in the western suburbs of Chengdu. Most of these pieces date back some 3,000 years. Many of the relics bear strong resemblance to those at Sanxingdui Ruins. For instance, a gold mask and a bronze statue of a person standing might immediately remind first-time visitors of the bronze masks and big bronze statues at Sanxingdui Ruins because of their similarity in style. The decorative patterns on the gold ribbon unearthed at Jinsha Ruins are also quite like those on the gold sceptre at Sanxingdui Ruins, which was the symbol of royal power of the king Shu (Shu was the ancient name of Sichuan). Like the Jinsha Site Museumsceptre (a staff held by a sovereign on ceremonial occasions as an emblem of authority), the ribbon has designs of a human head and birds on it. Unlike the sceptre, it also has the design of an arrow piecing through a bird. The patterns on the ribbon are most likely to be the emblem of a certain ethnic group.  Judging by its size, the ribbon might have been the headwear of the Shu king at that time. Many of the jade objects unearthed at Jinsha Ruins are priceless. Ancient called one piece, which has a square column on the outside and a round hole inside, cong (celestial “cell phon”). It is 22 centimeters tall. Under a microscope, you can see many exquisite decorative patterns on it, or ancient miniature carvings. The cong has a carved human figure on it, which has never been found on any unearthed jade cong in China before. Jade cong was offered as a sacrifice to heaven in ancient China. Its shape reflected ancient Shu people’s view of the universe – the sky was round and the earth square. Rulers at that time thought that human could communicate with ancestors and gods through jade cong. But actually, the cong was not made in Sichuan.  It was transported there from the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River. The earliest cong discovered in Liangzhu Ruins in Zhejiang Province dates back 7,000 years. This proves that Sichuan had more trade links with the outside world than previously thought.

Jinsha Site MuseumLocated in a basin, Sichuan was considered geographically isolated in ancient times. But relics unearthed at Jinsha Ruins make archaeologists believe that neighboring Yunnan and Guizhou provinces, but also Northern Viet Nam in ancient times. Through Sichuan, the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River areas conducted economic and cultural exchanges with Southeast Asia. The Jinsha Ruins have witnessed the excavation of 170 stone statues of people, tigers, snakes and tortoises. The stone statues are believed to be the oldest and most exquisite ever exhumed in Sichuan. It is also the first time in the province that more stone statues of animals than people have been found in one excavation. One rare stone statue is a man in kneeling position. With holes in his ears and pigtail, the man must have belonged to a special ethnic group at that time. With his two hands tied with a rope and with a stern expression, the man might be a slave or war prisoner. Archaeologists think that excavations at the Jinsha Ruins have changed Chengdu’s history and proved once again that Chinese civilization has very diverse roots. It was generally thought that Chengdu had a history of about 2,500 years. But the excavations of the Jinsha Ruins prove that rulers of the ancient Shu Kingdom established its political and cultural centre in Chengdu more than 3,000 years ago. Although archaeologists are not sure what the exact nature of the Jinsha Ruins are, they guess that they might be the ruins of a workshop or sacrificial activities, for a profusion of half-finished jade and stone ware and raw materials used to make jade and stone ware have been unearthed there. As many of the relics, which were sacrificial vessels with special purposes and belonged to the highest rulers of the Shu Kingdom, bore strong resemblance to those at Sanxingdui Ruins, archaeologists believe the two sites are closely related. Archaeologists believe that the Jinsha Ruins are most likely to be the political and cultural center the Shu king had moved from Sanxingdui to Chengdu. After the sudden demise of the Sanxingdui culture about 3,000 years ago, the Shu king likely moved to areas around today’s Jinsha Ruins in Chengdu.

Jinsha Site Museum
Jinsha Site MuseumFor keeping the relics and ruins in Jinsha. In November of 2004, the Jinsha Site Museum was built on the site of Jinsha ruins. The museum covers a total area of 300,000 square meters (74 acres). It is a place for visitors to closely observe the excavation of archeological spot and a good place to learn the glorious culture of the ancient Shu Kingdom. The museum is composed of five sections: Relic Hall, Exhibition Hall, Protection Center of Cultural Relics, Garden District and Tourist Receiving Center. Not only cultural relics can be admired in the museum, some interactive games can also be participated in. These years, the museum has become one of the most popular attractions in China and it is frequently visited by archaeologists and tourist from across the world.

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