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31 August 2013
3,000-year-old stone shields excavated in China

A set of stone shields believed to be used by nomads nearly 3,000 years ago has been excavated in the northwest Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China. The shields - pentagonal stones; one with a circle carved in the centre, surrounded by a herringbone pattern - were discovered at the "Sea of Flowers" Lake in the Altai mountains, bordering Mongolia.
     Lyu Enguo, researcher with Xinjiang's archaeological institute, describes the discovery as a "breakthrough" for research on the life of ancient nomads.
     Archaeologists have compared the patterns carved on one shield with those on deer stones... pentagons and herringbone are on many deer stones found on the Eurasian steppe. Deer stones are ancient megaliths - largely concentrated in Siberia and Mongolia - carved with depictions of flying deer. The patterns at the current site are especially similar to those from Mongolia's Khovsgol Province, roughly 2000 kilometres to the east, said Lyu.
     "They are most likely to be ritual objects for high-level sacrifices, to drive out evil spirits," said Guo Wu, associate researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Edited from Business Standard (18 August 2013)

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