| 1 January 2004
Ancient jade figurine unearthed in Chinese tomb
Archeologists in northeast China's Liaoning Province have unearthed a jade figurine and a phoenix from an ancient grave that probably belonged to a wizard who lived more than 5,000 years ago. The greenstone figurine, naked and standing 18.5 cm tall, was found on the left side of the skeleton, next to the pelvis. They were in a well-preserved stone coffin that was unearthed from a grave 3.9 meters long, 3.1 meters wide and 4.68 meters deep,the largest ever found at the Neolithic Hongshan Culture site at Niuheliang, in the west of the province.
The 19.5 cm jade phoenix that pillowed the skeleton's head and was calcified on the surface, was also a first-time discovery at the Hongshan culture site. Also in the coffin were six other jade pieces including bracelets, loops and pendants. Experts say the skeleton, well preserved with its head at the east and feet at the west, could have belonged to a man aged from 45 to 50 years.
"Unlike most other graves in the area that were dug in the earth, this one was dug in the hardest granite in the ridge of the mountain," said Zhu Da, a specialist with the provincial instituteof cultural heritage. "Its owner must have been very rich and enjoyed a high social status. He could have been a wizard, given the jade figurine and phoenix buried in tribute."
Zhu said the discovery provided important clues to their study into the burial customs and religious and sacrificial rituals in the Hongshan culture period, some 5,500 years ago. The Neolithic Hongshan Culture was named in 1935 and mainly distributed in the juncture area between the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and the provinces of Liaoning and Hebei. Enditem
Source: China View (29 December 2003)
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