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27 July 2004
Discovery rewrites Chinese vehicle history

The discovery of 3,700-year-old chariot tracks has pushed back the appearance of vehicles in China by 200 years, the country's media has reported. "It advances the history of China's vehicle use up to the Xia Dynasty (2100 - 1600 BCE)," said Xu Hong, who leads the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' archaeological investigation team at the Erlitou archaeological site in Yanshi city, central Henan province. The two parallel tracks were discovered on the grounds of a palace at the site, Xinhua news agency reported.
     Erlitou, discovered in 1959, was the largest residential human settlement in China and east Asia nearly 4,000 years ago. It boasts one of China's richest and earliest sites of palaces and bronze casting workshops. Before the chariot discovery, the earliest vehicle traces known in China dated back to the early Shang Dynasty (1600 - 1100BCE).
     Because the distance between the two parallel tracks is only one metre, archaeologists believe the vehicle body of the chariot would have been much narrower than others found elsewhere in Henan, and was probably of special use. It is unclear whether they are tracks of horse-drawn carriages, like those found in the Yin Ruins in Anyang, also in Henan.

Source: ABC News (26 July 2004)

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