Yinxu royal grave ruins on honor list

By Wang Ru and Wang Kaihao | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-03-29 01:23
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Archaeologists carry the fossil of a human skull unearthed at Xuetangliangzi, Hubei province. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Archaeology: Funerary relics show ethnic unity

The Yinxu Ruins, the 3,300-year-old remains of what was once the capital of the late Shang Dynasty (c.16th century-11th century BC), have been included in China's top 10 list of archaeological finds of 2022.

The list, released by the National Cultural Heritage Administration on Tuesday, recognizes the royal mausoleum remains at the site in Anyang city, Henan province, as a new find. The Yinxu Ruins were previously made famous by the discovery of the oracle bone inscriptions, the oldest-known Chinese script.

According to the administration, the list honored 10 outstanding examples of the nearly 1,700 archaeological projects that were carried out nationwide last year.

The first archaeological honor list was released in 1990, and it has been an annual tradition since. A 21-member panel, comprised of China's top scholars, voted through ballots to select the 10 outstanding projects of 2022 from 22 finalists.

Yinxu was the first independent excavation project carried out by Chinese academics almost a century ago and it now holds a sacred place in the annals of China's archaeological history.

Sacrificial pits and trenches surrounding the royal graves discovered at Yinxu last year have reshaped people's understanding of Shang burial customs and the grand picture of the dynasty as a whole, according to archaeologists.

Xia (c.21st century-16th century BC), Shang and Zhou (c.11th century-256 BC) — the earliest dynasties in traditional Chinese historiography with fewer historical records — have always been the focus of researchers, as they are believed to be the key to decoding the origins of Chinese civilization.

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