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14 January 2006
3,000-year-old ancient state found in north China

A small ancient state dating back nearly 3,000 years, which was never recorded in historical documents, has been discovered in north China's Shanxi Province. Archaeologists deduced the existence of the previously unknown state, Peng, from inscriptions on bronzeware excavated from two ancient Western Zhou Dynasty tombs (1100 BC-771 BCE). The owners of the two tombs, discovered in Hengshui Town of Jiangxian County in Shanxi Province, were the ruler of the state, Pengbo (meaning Count of Peng State), and his wife.
     Li Boqian, director of the archaeological research center of the prestigious Beijing University, said that the discovery of the Western Zhou graves in Hengshui is the most important archaeological discovery since the excavation of the graves of the Marquis of Jin, another state of the Western Zhou Dynasty, in Quwo County of Shanxi Province.
     More than 80 tombs have been excavated at the site in Hengshui, with the tombs of Pengbo and his wife the largest ones. The couple were buried side by side with lots of funeral objects such as bronzeware, carriages and jade, said Song Jianzhong, deputy director of the Institute of Archaeology of Shanxi Province. One of the most important findings in the graves is the remains of a pall covering the coffins. The remains of the pall, already blended with earth after several thousand years, are still a vivid red color. Phoenix patterns can be seen on the pall, said Song. "This is the oldest, best preserved and largest tomb decoration object so far discovered in China," added Song.
     A total of 16 pieces of bronze were unearthed from the two tombs. The inscriptions on the bronze show that one of the tombs belonged to Pengbo and the other to his wife. 'Ding' bronzeware was a symbol of power and status in the Western Zhou Dynasty. Archaeologists noted that five pieces of Ding were found in Pengbo's wife's tomb, and only three in Pengbo's tomb.

Sources: China Daily, Xinhua (14 January 2006)

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