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3 August 2003
Neolithic grotto grave found in China

A Neolithic grotto grave was recently found in Nongshan Mountain in southwestern Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, unveiling the burial secrets of the Luoyue people, ancestors of one China's largest ethnic groups, the Zhuang.
     Situated in Xianhu Town in Wuming County of Nanning, the grave is older than three others unearthed earlier in the autonomous region, which only date back to the early years of the Qin Dynasty (221 BCE - 206 BCE). From the 100-square-metre site, archaeologists have excavated more than 80 archeological findings, including stone implements, pottery, jade and clam ware, a few skeletons and some fossils of pandas, elephants and rhinoceros. A wealth of stone shovels made of fine-grained shale, which is rather delicate and fragile, have also been unearthed for the first time. With the largest shovel measuring 29 by 17 centimetres and the smallest measuring 10 centimetres long and 4.2 centimetres wide, the varying shapes and sizes have provided vital clues to the daily life and production of the ancient ethnic Luoyue people.
     Archaeologist Li Zhen, who has taken part in the excavation, said the stone shovels go beyond the average farming tools popular in primitive digging and hoeing work, and function as ritual articles and funerary objects which might have been worshipped or deified as totems.
     Among the unearthed pottery ware, there are numerous pots, axes, kettles, bowls and cups. On their surface, rope lines are engraved on most of them, while some have water wave lines and only a few have coloured drawings. Also excavated from the grave were a few clam ornaments and jade adornments which give expressions to the aesthetic views of the ancient dwellers in Guangxi and their handicraft, said Li.

Source: People's Daily (28 July 2003)

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