Category Archives: CHINA

3,000-year-old clan cemetery uncovered in central China

3,000-year-old clan cemetery uncovered in central China

3,000-year-old clan cemetery uncovered in central China
3,000-year-old clan cemetery uncovered in central China

Photo provided by the Anyang Institute of cultural relics and archaeology on Jan. 5, 2022, shows a horse buried with the dead at the Shaojiapeng site, which is decorated with shell strings. (Anyang Institute of cultural relics and archaeology/Handout via Xinhua)

A large-scale tomb cluster dating back to the late Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BC) was recently discovered in Shaojiapeng Village, Anyang City of central China’s Henan Province, according to the city’s institute of cultural relics and archaeology.

Located 2.4 km away from the palace and ancestral temple of the Yin Ruins, a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Shaojiapeng site is believed to be a major living area for a clan named “Ce” in the Shang Dynasty.

The Chinese character “Ce” was found on the inscription of bronzeware uncovered in the cemetery relics, which indicates the identity of the clan.

A total of 18 building foundations, 24 tombs, four-horse and chariot pits, along with relics including exquisite bronzeware, jade and stone objects, bone ware and mussels, were found during the two-year excavation of the site.

Six carriages and several warriors and horses buried with the dead were uncovered in the pits, with luxurious decorations on the relics.

Some warriors were found wearing hats with shell strings and the foreheads of some horses were decorated with gold veneer and bronze backing.

“This is very rare among the ancient discoveries of Anyang, reflecting the extraordinary status and power of the carriage owner,” said Kong Deming, director of the institute.

The researchers are still working on unlocking the remaining mysteries of the site, including the social status of the clan, their division of labour and their relationship with the Shang royal family.

The relics at the site are diverse and relatively well-preserved, making them of great significance to studies on the scope and layout of the Yin Ruins, according to Kong.

2,700-year-old leather armour proves technology transfer happened in antiquity

2,700-year-old leather armor proves technology transfer happened in antiquity

Researchers at the University of Zurich have investigated a unique leather scale armour found in the tomb of a horse rider in Northwest China. Design and construction details of the armour indicate that it originated in the Neo-Assyrian Empire between the 6th and 8th centuries BCE before being brought to China.

In 2013, a nearly complete leather scale armour was found in the tomb of an approx. 30-year-old male near the modern-day city of Turfan in Northwest China.

This unprecedented find, which survived the millennia thanks to the area’s extremely arid climate, provided the international team led by Patrick Wertmann from the Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies of the University of Zurich with new insights on the spread of military technology during the first millennium BCE.

2,700-year-old leather armor proves technology transfer happened in antiquity
The ancient leather shed armour could be dated to the period between 786 and 543 BC.

Scale armours protect the vital organs of fighters like an extra layer of the skin without restricting their mobility. The armours were made of small shield-shaped plates arranged in horizontal rows and sewn onto a backing.

Due to the costly materials and laborious manufacturing process, armours were very precious, and wearing them was considered a privilege of the elite. It was rare for them to be buried with the owner. However, the emergence of powerful states with large armies in the ancient world led to the development of less precious but nevertheless effective armours made of leather, bronze or iron for ordinary soldiers.

Standard military equipment for horsemen

The researchers used radiocarbon dating to determine the age of the armour to between 786 and 543 BCE.

It was originally made of about 5,444 smaller scales and 140 larger scales, which together with leather laces and lining weighed between 4 and 5kg.

The armour resembles a waistcoat that protects the front of the torso, hips, sides and the lower back of the body. It can be put on quickly without the help of another person and fits people of different statures.

“The armour was professionally produced in large numbers,” says Patrick Wertmann. With the increasing use of chariots in Middle Eastern warfare, a special armour for horsemen was developed from the 9th century BCE.

These armours later became part of the standardized equipment of military forces of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, which extended from parts of present-day Iraq to Iran, Syria, Turkey and Egypt.

Two armors, distinct units

While there is no direct parallel to the 2,700-year-old armour in the whole of Northwest China, there are some stylistic and functional similarities to a second contemporary armour of unknown origin held by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (the Met).

It is possible that the two armours were intended as outfits for distinct units of the same army, i.e. the Yanghai armour for cavalry and the armour in the Met for infantry.

It is unclear whether the Yanghai armour belonged to a foreign soldier working for the Assyrian forces who brought it back home with him, or whether the armour was captured from someone else who had been to the region.

“Even though we can’t trace the exact path of the scale armour from Assyria to Northwest China, the find is one of the rare actual proofs of West-East technology transfer across the Eurasian continent during the early first millennium BCE,” says Wertmann.

Perfectly-preserved dinosaur embryo found inside the fossilized egg in China

Perfectly-preserved dinosaur embryo found inside the fossilized egg in China

A well-preserved dinosaur embryo has been found inside a fossilized egg. The fossilized dinosaur embryo came from Ganzhou, Jiangxi Province in southern China and was acquired by researchers in 2000.

Researchers at Yingliang Group, a company that mines stones, suspected it contained egg fossils, but put it in storage for 10 years, according to a news release.

When construction began on Yingliang Stone Natural History Museum, boxes of unearthed fossils were sorted through.

“Museum staff identified them as dinosaur eggs and saw some bones on the broken cross-section of one of the eggs,” Lida Xing of China University of Geosciences, Beijing, said in a news release. An embryo was found hidden within, which they named “Baby Yingliang.”

The embryo is that of the bird-like oviraptorosaurs, part of the theropod group. Theropod means “beast foot,” but theropod feet usually resembled those of birds. Birds are descended from one lineage of small theropods. 

Perfectly-preserved dinosaur embryo found inside the fossilized egg in China
Reconstruction of a close-to-hatching oviraptorosaur egg.

In studying the embryo, researchers found the dinosaur took on a distinctive tucking posture before hatching, which had been considered unique to birds.

The study is published in the science journal.

Researchers say this behaviour may have evolved through non-avian theropods.

“Most known non-avian dinosaur embryos are incomplete with skeletons disarticulated,” said Waisum Maof the University of Birmingham, U.K.

“We were surprised to see this embryo beautifully preserved inside a dinosaur egg, lying in a bird-like posture. This posture had not been recognized in non-avian dinosaurs before.”

The oviraptorosaur embryo, which has been named “Baby Yingliang.”

While fossilized dinosaur eggs have been found during the last 100 years, discovering a well-preserved embryo is very rare, the researchers said in the release. 

The embryo’s posture was not previously seen in non-avian dinosaurs, which is “especially notable because it’s reminiscent of a late-stage modern bird embryo.”

The researchers will continue to study the rare specimen in even more depth.

They will attempt to image its internal anatomy. Some of its body parts are still covered in rocks. Their findings can also be used in more studies of fossil embryos.

The MINI terracotta army: Hundreds of small warrior statues found in a 2100-year-old pit in China

The MINI terracotta army: Hundreds of small warrior statues found in 2100-year-old pit in China

Inside a 2,100-year-old pit in China, archaeologists have discovered a miniature army of sorts: carefully arranged chariots and mini statues of cavalry, watchtowers, infantry and musicians.

They look like a miniaturized version of the Terracotta Army — a collection of chariots and life-size sculptures of soldiers, horses, entertainers and civil officials — that was constructed for Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China.

Based on the design of the newfound artefacts, archaeologists believe that the pit was created about 2,100 years ago, or about a century after the construction of the Terracotta Army.

The southern part of the pit is filled with formations of cavalry and chariots, along with models of watchtowers that stand 55 inches (140 centimetres) high. At the pit’s centre, about 300 infantrymen stand alert in a square formation, while the northern part of the pit has a model of a theatrical pavilion holding small sculptures of musicians.

“The form and scale of the pit suggest that it accompanies a large burial site,” wrote archaeologists in a paper published recently in the journal Chinese Cultural Relics.

The MINI terracotta army: Hundreds of small warrior statues found in 2100-year-old pit in China
A 2,100-year-old pit containing a mini “Terracotta Army” has been discovered in China.

The “vehicles, cavalry and infantry in square formation were reserved for burials of the monarchs or meritorious officials or princes,” the archaeologists wrote.

The soldiers and cavalry in the newly discovered army are much smaller than those in the Terracotta Army. Based on the date, size and location of the pit, archaeologists believe that this newly discovered army may have been built for Liu Hong, a prince of Qi (a part of China), who was the son of Emperor Wu (reign 141–87 B.C.).

Hong was based in Linzi, a Chinese city near the newly discovered pit; he died in 110 B.C. “Textual sources record that Liu Hong was installed as the prince of Qi when he was quite young, and he, unfortunately, died early, without an heir,” archaeologists wrote in the journal article. Shortly before Hong’s death, according to writings by ancient historian Ban Gu, a comet appeared in the sky over China.

Where is the tomb?

If the pit and its ceramic army were meant to protect Liu Hong, or another senior royal family member, in the afterlife, then a tomb should be located nearby, the archaeologists wrote.

“There are possibly architectural remains or a path leading from the pit, but there is no way to explore the main burial chamber,” the researchers wrote, noting that the tomb itself may have been destroyed. 

Older residents in the area have reported descriptions of a prominent earthen mound, some 13 feet (4 meters) high, near the pit, the study authors wrote. “Sometime in the 1960s or 1970s, workers removed the earth and flattened the area in order to widen the Jiaonan-Jinan Railway.”

The reports are corroborated by an aerial photograph taken in 1938 by the Japanese Air Force (at that time, Japan was at war with China). This picture shows a possible burial mound near the railway, the archaeologists noted.

From life size to mini-warriors

The Terracotta Army pits found beside the tomb of the first emperor of China are the only known examples of an army of life-size ceramic soldiers in China.

Shortly after the first emperor’s 210 B.C. death, his dynasty, known as the Qin dynasty, collapsed and a new dynasty, known as the Han, took over China. 

Some of the Han dynasty rulers continued to build pits with armies of ceramic soldiers for their burials, but the soldiers were considerably smaller. For instance, the infantry sculptures in the newly discovered pit are between 9 and 12 inches (22 and 31 cm) tall, nowhere near the heights of the life-size soldiers buried near the tomb of the first emperor.

The pit, along with several other archaeological sites, was discovered in the winter of 2007 during construction work. After its discovery, the pit was excavated by the Cultural Relics Agency of Linzi District of Zibo city.

After excavation was complete, archaeologists from this agency analyzed the artefacts, working with researchers from the Shandong Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology.

A report on the pit was first published, in Chinese, in 2016, in the journal Wenwu. This report was recently translated into English and published in the journal Chinese Cultural Relics.

Could cosmic rays unlock the secret tomb of China’s Qin Shi Huang guarded by terracotta warriors?

Could cosmic rays unlock the secret tomb of China’s Qin Shi Huang guarded by terracotta warriors?

Cosmic rays may be used to scan the sealed tomb of China’s First Emperor — long rumoured to contain deadly traps and an ancient map with liquid mercury rivers. Buried under a 249-feet-high pyramidal mound, the tomb lies within a necropolis in Xi’an’s Lintong District and is famously guarded by the Terracotta Army.

Found in their thousands to the tomb’s east, as if to protect Qin Shi Huang in death from the eastern states he conquered in life, each statue was once brightly painted. However, exposure to the dry Xi’an air before appropriate conservation techniques had been devised meant that most of the soldiers’ colours faded after recovery.

For this reason, Chinese officials have long been reluctant to allow the tomb itself to be unearthed until they can guarantee the preservation of any artefacts within. However, new proposals would see subatomic particle detectors placed beneath the 2,229-year-old tomb to map out the structure’s layout in three dimensions.

Qin Shi Huang (259–210 BCE) succeeded in conquering and unifying the whole of China in 221 BCE, creating an empire that lasted for some two millennia.

His other achievements including starting construction on the Great Wall of China, establishing a nationwide road network and standardising writing and units. 

His lavish burial site was unearthed in 1974 and has inspired both films and video games, including instalments in both The Mummy and Indiana Jones franchises.

Cosmic rays may be used to scan the sealed tomb of China’s First Emperor — long rumoured to contain deadly traps and an ancient map with liquid mercury rivers
Buried under a 249-feet-high pyramidal mound (pictured), the tomb lies at the heart of a necropolis in Xi’an’s Lintong District, one famously guarded by the Terracotta Army
Found in their thousands to the tomb’s east, as if to protect Qin Shi Huang in death from the eastern states he conquered in life, each statue was once brightly painted. However, exposure to the dry Xi’an air before appropriate conservation techniques had been devised meant that most of the soldiers’ colours faded after recovery — as seen in the examples pictured
For this reason, Chinese officials have been reluctant to allow the tomb itself to be unearthed until they can guarantee the preservation of any artefacts within. Pictured: a map of the necropolis complex, which was modelled after the Qin capital Xianyang. The tomb mound can be seen in the centre of the image, with the inner and outer walls. The Terracotta Army was buried in a ‘garrison’ to the east, between the Emperor and the states he conquered
When high-energy cosmic rays (white line) from space interact with Earth’s atmosphere, they create a shower of subatomic particles — including some called ‘muons’ (solid orange lines) which form from the rapid decay of pions (solid yellow lines)

When high-energy cosmic rays from space interact with Earth’s atmosphere, they create a shower of subatomic particles, including some called ‘muons’. 

The scanning technique — ‘muon tomography’ — works as an X-ray, with detectors measuring the rate at which muons are absorbed by the material they pass through.

Just as bones absorb relatively more X-rays than flesh to create contrast in a radiograph, so does stone and metal block the passage of more muons.

The same approach has previously been used, in 2017, to reveal the presence of a previously hidden, 98-feet-long chamber within the Great Pyramid at Giza.

The muon-scanning technique has been proposed by physicist Yuanyuan Liu of the Beijing Normal University and her colleagues, who normally use cosmic rays to investigate the dark matter at the China Jinping Underground Laboratory, which is the world’s deepest cosmic ray facility which is buried some 3.7 miles under the Sichuan province.

‘As an ancient civilisation with a long history, China has a large number of cultural relics that are in need of archaeological research,’ the team told the Times.

‘For the non-intrusive detection of the internal structure of some large artefacts such as imperial tombs, the traditional geophysical methods used in archaeology have certain limitations.

‘The application of muon absorption imaging to the archaeological field can be an important supplement to traditional geophysical methods,’ they concluded. 

To put their proposal to the test, the group used existing archaeological and historical data on the mausoleum to build models of the tomb complex.

They then buried these in the ground on top of two muon detectors to show that they could indeed images the chambers in their models.

‘Preliminary imaging results prove the feasibility of muon absorption imaging for the underground chamber of the mausoleum of the First Qin emperor,’ the team said. 

The feasibility studies were funded by the central Chinese government.

Based on their tests, the team have concluded that — to scan the real-life tomb — at least two muon detectors, each of which is about the size of a washing machine, would need to be placed in different locations within 328 feet (100 metres) of the tomb’s surface.

This is not the first time that archaeologists and other scientists have tried to use non-invasive methods to map out the inside of Qin’s tomb. Unfortunately, most approaches have limitations that make them difficult to apply to the mausoleum’s particular circumstances.

Gravity anomaly detectors are good at detecting changes in density underground — but such are easily affected by environmental disturbances and their range is limited to a small area.

Pictured: Qin Shi Huang (259–210 BCE), who succeeded in conquering and unifying the whole of China in 221 BCE, creating an empire that lasted for some two millennia

Ground-penetrating radar, meanwhile — a favourite of archaeological geophysicists — suffers from a too limited depth to be of much use here. 

These studies have succeeded in revealing, however, that an underground complex of some kind and state of preservation does extend some 98 feet beneath the pyramidal mound. Archaeologists believe that there is a good chance that the subterranean chambers may still be intact. Certainly, no evidence has been found that graverobbers have ever succeeded in tunnelling their way into the tomb.

Geophysicist Yang Dikun of the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen — who was not involved in the present study — told the South China Morning Post that the latest proposal to scan the Emperor’s tomb was feasible.

‘The muon detectors that we build and use for fieldwork nowadays have become so small they can be carried around by a child,’ he commented.

However, Dr Yang warned, the cosmic ray approach is not without potential challenges — the main one being that the detectors have to be physically emplaced underneath the mausoleum complex without damaging it or the artefacts within.

It also required considerable patience, he added. Unlike other imaging techniques, muon tomography is far from instantaneous, and the detectors will need to operate until they have racked up enough particle counts for meaningful analysis.

In fact, simulations by Dr Liu and her team have suggested that — to produce a clear image of the tomb’s structure — the detectors would need to be left in place for at least one year. The full findings of the study were published in the journal Acta Physica Sinica.

2,400-Year-Old Tea Residue Found in China

2,400-Year-Old Tea Residue Found in China

“China is the first country in the world to discover and cultivate tea,” said Professor Shuya Wei from the Institute of Cultural Heritage and History of Science & Technology at the University of Science and Technology Beijing and her colleagues.

A small tea bowl was found in the ancient capital of the Zhu Kingdom in Zoucheng, Shandong province, China.

“In Chinese legend, tea was first discovered as an antidote by Emperor Shen Nung in 2737 BCE, according to the first monograph on Chinese herbal medicine Shennong’s Classic of Materia Medica.”

“The first mention of tea planting is believed to occur in the Xiaxiaozheng, a Chinese earliest almanac recording traditional agricultural affairs, probably written in the Warring States period (475-221 BCE).”

“According to the literature, in the Spring and Autumn period (770-476 BCE), tea had been used as a sacrifice and vegetable, in the Warring States period and the early Western Han dynasty, tea cultivation, tea making techniques and tea-drinking custom in Sichuan province began to spread to other places.”

The physical evidence of tea is very important to confirm the origin, development, function and culture of tea.

“As archaeological plant leaves remain have been buried for many years, most of them have rotted or charred, it is difficult to find archaeological plant leaves remains in archaeological excavation,” the researchers explained.

“Recently, 2,400-year-old charred tea remains were found in a bowl unearthed from tomb No. 1 at Xigang in the ancient capital city site of the Zhu Kingdom in Zoucheng City, Shandong province.”

“If the remains could be determined as tea, that would be the direct evidence for tea drinking in the ancient time.”

2,400-Year-Old Tea Residue Found in China
The 2,400-year-old tea residue from a bowl was found in the ancient capital of the Zhu Kingdom in Zoucheng, Shandong province, China.

In the study, Professor Wei and co-authors analyzed the sample from the Warring State tomb using Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and several other methods. They used modern tea and modern tea residue as reference samples.

Their results show that the sample contains abundant calcium phytoliths identifiable as tea and that its FTIR spectra are similar to that of the modern tea residue.

They also detected caffeine, methoxybenzene compounds, organic acids, and several other compounds in both the ancient sample and the modern tea residue.

“Since ancient times, the Chinese people have always had the habit of drinking tea, but there is no physical evidence to prove when tea actually appeared, until the discovery of tea in the Han Yangling Mausoleum, which proved that Chinese tea has a history of at least 2,150 years, which has earned recognition from Guinness World Records as the oldest tea in 2016,” the scientists said.

“The identification of the tea remains in Zoucheng — the early stage of Warring States, approximately 2,400 years ago — has advanced the origin of tea by nearly 300 years.”

“Furthermore, the tea was found in a small bowl, providing additional evidence of the usage of tea.”

“Our results indicate that tea drinking culture may start as early as in Warring State period.”

The findings were published in the journal Scientific Reports.

3,000-Year-Old Road, Drainage Pipe Unearthed in China

3,000-Year-Old Road, Drainage Pipe Unearthed in China

Relics of drainage pipe, road and rut remains have been found in the ruins of Haojing, an ancient capital city dating back to the Western Zhou Dynasty (1046 B.C.-771 B.C.), according to the Shaanxi Academy of Archaeology.

The drainage pipe was uncovered in the foundation of the No. 14 building on its central-south edge, which was excavated between 2019 and 2020, the institute said on Wednesday.

Over 3 meters long, the pipe ruins are made of four round earthenware pipes with a diameter of about 25 centimetres, providing physical materials for further studies on the drainage system of the No. 14 building.

Drainage pipe, ancient road unearthed in Xi'an city
Drainage pipe, ancient road unearthed in Xi’an city

Meanwhile, an ancient road with a rut of about 12 meters long was also discovered in the recent excavation. About 1.4 meters below the existing surface, the road extends about 30 meters from west to east with a width of about 6 meters.

The vehicle rut is about 12 meters long and 8 centimetres in depth. It is the first time for the archaeologists to find such road and track remains at the site, said the institute.

READ ALSO: ANCIENT WALLS OF BENIN WERE FOUR TIMES LONGER THAN THE WALLS OF CHINA

The No. 14 foundation site, which covers more than 1,800 square meters, is believed to have been used in the middle to late Western Zhou Dynasty period and is of great importance for further research on the architecture functions, construction techniques and the capital layout of the dynasty.

Haojing site, where the capital city of the Western Zhou Dynasty was located, was excavated in the current city of Xi’an, the capital of northwest China’s Shaanxi Province.

The ancient ruins have a total area of around 920 hectares

‘Pyramid of eyes’ discovered at the heart of the 4300-year-old city in northern China

‘Pyramid of eyes’ discovered at the heart of the 4300-year-old city in northern China

The ruins were thought to be an unexcavated portion of China’s famous Great Wall. But a recent examination has unearthed something much, much older. It’s a 4300-year-old walled metropolis. At its heart is a giant step pyramid — lavishly adorned with stone stylised eyes and faces.

Now called Shimao, its ancient name is long since lost.

But its significance was — and is — enormous.

It was once a thriving Bronze Age trade hub. Covering some 400 hectares, it was also one of the largest cities in the ancient world.

It was also the centre for murderous ritual worship. According to a study published in the journal Antiquity, the city thrived for some 500 years before falling into rubble.

‘Pyramid of eyes’ discovered at the heart of the 4300-year-old city in northern China
This figure shows images of the step pyramid. a) part of the stone buttresses of the second and the third steps of the pyramid; b) eye symbols that decorate the pyramid c) a view of the buttresses under excavation; d) a general view of the pyramid before excavation. Credit: Zhouyong Sun and Jing Shao

PYRAMID OF THE EYES

It’s not a pyramid in the traditional sense. Its sides are not straight or equal. And it was moulded out of a hill, given its shape with rammed-earth and given strength by stone retaining walls.

But it is an enormous stepped mound covering some 24 hectares at its base, and 70 metres high. In comparison, the Great Pyramid of Giza covers some 5.5ha but reaches some 139m into the sky.

The Shimao structure’s stone buttresses form 11 steps. And these appear to have been heavily decorated. Part-animal, part-human faces have been found etched into its stones along with distinctive eye-like symbols.

These “may have endowed the stepped pyramid with special religious power and further strengthened the general visual impression on its large audience,” the researchers wrote.

The topmost ‘step’ of the pyramid was a large plaza, upon which structures were built. Among the 4300-year-old city, remains are a water cistern, pillars, tiles and fine-quality domestic items, such as pottery.

The ancient city of Shimao, showing the central ‘pyramid’ (blue), the inner defensive wall (red) and the outer wall of the city (green).

“(These were) extensive palaces built of rammed earth, with wooden pillars and roofing tiles, a gigantic water reservoir, and domestic remains related to daily life,” the study reads.

Archaeologists have also found a mural at the site, which they think could be among the oldest in China. The pyramid was visible from every aspect of the city, providing a “constant and overwhelming reminder to the Shimao population of the power of the ruling elites residing atop it”.

“At the entrance to the stepped pyramid were sophisticated bulwarks (walls) whose design suggests that they were intended to provide both defence and highly restricted access.”

But it was more than just a retreat for the elite. Valuable craftsmen appear to have been protected by its walls.

“Evidence so far suggests that the stepped pyramid complex functioned not only as a residential space for ruling Shimao elites but also as a space for artisanal or industrial craft production,” the study reads.

A sacrificial pit of human skulls was discovered at Shimao. The people sacrificed may have been captives captured in war. This photo was first published in 2016 in an article in the Chinese language journal Kaogu yu wenwu.

HUMAN SACRIFICE

Apart from being a hub of regional trade, Shimao also appears to have been a religious centre. Jade was ritually inserted between most of the blocks in Shimao’s walls. And the remains of what appear to be human sacrifices have been found in six pits at several locations around the outer ramparts of the city.

“The jade objects and human sacrifice may have imbued the very walls of Shimao with ritual and religious potency,” the study says.

“In the outer gateway of the eastern gate on the outer rampart alone, six pits containing decapitated human heads have been found. Morphological analysis of the human remains suggests that the victims may have been related to the residents of Zhukaigou (a nearby city), which could further suggest that they were taken to Shimao as captives during the expansion of the Shimao empire.”

READ ALSO: GOLD MASK AMONG 3,000-YEAR-OLD RELICS UNEARTHED IN SOUTHWEST CHINA

And it was a city prepared to fight.

The entire suburban sprawl — not just the central pyramid — was protected by walls, ramparts and bastions.

Photos and elevation drawings showing Shimao city’s main gate.

“Analysis and comparison of new archaeological data … have revealed a highly complex society, the political and economic heartland, and possibly the most powerful (civilisation), of the territory of what is today China,” the Antiquity article reads.

“Not only (was Shimao) the largest walled settlement of its time in ancient China, but was also among the largest centres in the world.”