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10 December 2014
Evidence of ancient earthquake found in China

Scientists have found evidence of a powerful earthquake 3,000 years ago in central China, apparently the earliest known in the country's history. The earthquake, which hit an area now part of Henan province, was of magnitude 6.8 to 7.1, archaeologists said.
     Signs of the quake were first found in 2005 in seriously damaged ash pits, residences and graves that lay buried under a village in the province, the researchers said. Carbon dating indicated the earthquake struck the area sometime between 1500 BCE and 1260 BCE, they added. China did not start keeping seismological records until 843 BCE.
     Scientists also found a human skeleton whose pelvis and leg bones were found in a pit 1.5 metres (five feet) away from his upper body. "The skeleton couldn't have been damaged by human force," said Chu Xiaolong, associate researcher with the Henan Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology. "It had been apparently torn apart under the impact of the quake," he concluded.
     The discoveries were made on the central route of the south-to-north water diversion project, a huge scheme to transport water from central provinces to Beijing that is due to open this month. Researchers also found intact skeletons of cattle, pigs and other domestic animals at the site that were believed to be sacrifices made to ward off future quakes.

Edited from The Star Online (5 December 2014)

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