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Museum invites journalists to explore ancient Chinese civilization

By Fang Aiqing | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-02-28 08:56

Domestic and foreign journalists examine a turquoise mosaic dragon unearthed from the Erlitou site in Henan province that dates back 3,500 to 3,800 years. [Photo by Fang Aiqing/chinadaily.com.cn]

A group of domestic and foreign journalists visited the Chinese Archaeological Museum in Beijing on Tuesday, examining key unearthed artifacts and attending a lecture on their origins, formation and early development of Chinese civilization.

Invited by the State Council Information Office, 33 reporters from 25 foreign media institutions joined the event, along with 13 domestic journalists.

The museum, housing a collection of more than 6,000 cultural relics that archaeologists excavated from across the country over the past seven decades, opened to the public in September. It is dedicated to displaying the politics, economics, cultural and social life in different historical periods from the Paleolithic Age to modern times.

"It is based on these unearthed findings that our museum is able to piece together the history of the continuous Chinese civilization," said Liu Guoxiang, deputy director of the Chinese Academy of History, which oversees the museum.

The guided tour focused mainly on exhibits reflecting the social evolvement from the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods to the Xia (21st century-16th century BC), Shang (16th century-11th century BC) and Zhou (11th century-256 BC) dynasties.

Foreign journalists observed the patterns and remarked on pottery wares with distinctive regional features, payingclose attention to the variations of Loong, or Chinese dragon, which appeared on various relic pieces.

Civilization originates from social differentiation and its formation is marked by the emergence of State, said Wang Wei, director of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Academic Division of History, who served as a chief expert through 2004 to 2016 as the project traced the origins of Chinese civilization.

In his lecture after the museum tour, Wang summarized the timeline and characteristics of early civilization development and introduced key regional cultures from different periods and their representative legacies before answering questions from the journalists.

Wang pointed out that the three elements that Western scholars often take as the criteria for entry into civilized society — namely, metallurgy, writing and urbanization — are not universally applicable, as is seen in the cases of Mayan and Inca civilizations. The Mayan people lacked metallurgy and the Incas did not have a writing system.

"Different regions may have exhibited unique characteristics in their transition to a civilized society. We can form a Chinese approach to identify the crucial point based on archaeological evidence found in China," Wang said.

Liu said foreign journalists are particularly interested in the characteristics of Chinese civilization itself, as well as its connection with other civilizations in the world, adding that the museum will continue to tell the history of Chinese civilization based on archaeological evidence.

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