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14 June 2006
Ancient stone chimes discovered in China

Chinese archaeologists unearthed two good-sized stone chimes, an ancient musical instrument, dating back to the Shang Dynasty (16th-11th centuries BCE) in the southwestern province of Sichuan.
     The bigger of the two stone chimes, which is about 110 cm long and the largest of all Shang stone chimes ever excavated, was found in the Jinsha Ruins in the suburbs of Chengdu, capital of Sichuan and about 2,200 kilometers southwest of Beijing. Small holes were drilled in the stone chime, which is in an elliptic shape, so that it could be suspended from a frame. The other smaller stone chime, unearthed together with the big one, has two string lines.
     "Stone chimes served as special musical instruments at imperial rituals in the Shang age, and it is the first time to find stone chimes in southwest China," said Wang Yi, director of Chengdu Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology. "The two stone chimes show that the Shang people had fairly complete rites and music system for the activity of sacrifice," he said, adding that the performance must have been quite spectacular because the size of the stone chimes is so big.

Source: China Through a Lens (11 June 2006)

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