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2 November 2005
Oldest dragon totem found

A 3,700-year-old antique in the shape of a dragon, made up of over 2,000 pieces of turquoise, is believed by many Chinese scholars as the oldest Chinese dragon totem. The antique was discovered in the Erlitou relics site in Yanshi City of central China's Henan Province. Many scholars believe that Erlitou is the site of the capital of the Xia Dynasty (2,100 BCE to 1,600 BCE), China's first dynasty.
    "Although some dragon-shaped relics older than the antique in Erlitou have been uncovered in other places, such as the 7,000-year-old jade sculpture showing a dragon with a pig head and a tight-lipped snout, found in a Neolithic site in Chifeng City, Inner Mongolia, they had no direct connection with the ancient civilization that originated in central China," said Chinese archaeologist Du Jinpeng.
    "Only the dragon discovered in central China had a direct link with the Xia, Shang and Zhou dynasties and came down in one continuous line," said Du, a researcher with the Institute of Archaeology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. "Therefore, the dragon antique in Erlitou is the lineal origin of the dragon totem of the Chinese nation," Du said.
    The dragon totem, 70.2 cm long, looks like a python. It is made of more than 2,000 pieces of turquoise, each only 0.1 cm thin and 0.2 to 0.9 cm long. "It's very rare to find such delicate dragon-shaped relics during that period. And it is of great historic, artistic and scientific value," said Du.

Source: China View (31 October 2005)

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