Category Archives: CHINA

The 5,000-Year-Old Pyramid City of Caral: The First City in the Americas

The 5,000-Year-Old Pyramid City of Caral: The First City in the Americas

Seventy thousand years ago, people lived all over South America. Six thousand years ago, people began to construct cities around pyramids, in places like Mesopotamia and China.

The first of these structures in the Americas, between the Andes and the Pacific Oceans, was established 5,000 years ago. Known as Caral, it was a large settlement in the Supe Valley, in what is now Peru. The point is that this gave rise to the first city in the Americas, as well as the most extraordinary archaeological site in the entire world.

Ancient cities all had a common feature, namely their access to fresh water. On the wall, across the board, this is what allowed for the irrigation that was required to form modern cities. In typical fashion, the river in the valley of Caral flowed down from the mountains to the sea.

From this, hoes were then used to dig trenches from the river to the fields. However, since the river only flows between December and April, to have water all year round, they had to build a canal that was fed by two different sources.

Remains of the Great Pyramid of Caral.

Along with the river water, the people of Caral made use of mountain spring water, to hydrate themselves and the plants they depended on. As a result of this, there were soon numerous fruits and vegetables, in a vast oasis, along with acres upon acres of cotton. It must have been an ancient wonder of the world.

Now, although they were expert farmers, the old native Peruvians didn’t know how to fire clay. Instead, they carried things in hand-woven reed baskets. The thing that makes them the most unique, though, is the fact that the Caral-Supe civilization was a peaceful society. That is to say, citizens didn’t own weapons, unlike in almost every other civilization, both ancient and modern alike.

Their overall way of life developed out of a far greater need for welfare than that of warfare. So, the culture didn’t include aggression. Although, it is important to note that, the priests of Caral did engage in human sacrifice.

In this way, they started the tradition of burying people alive in monumental architecture, as would be seen millennia later, in cities like Teotihuacan and Cahokia, in North America. Thus, trapped souls began to serve as protectors of pyramids.

Regardless, Caral was under construction at the same time as the pyramids of Giza, in Ancient Egypt. Like all the other great cities of old, the site was simply enormous.

The temple included a 100-foot tall, multiple structures, a fire altar platform. This was also accompanied by five smaller ritual pyramids, around a central plaza, complete with an amphitheater. There was also housing for 3,000 permanent residents.

As part of this, major repairs needed to be done every two or three generations. Even though they used rather sophisticated anti-seismic methods of construction, it was still necessary to shore up monuments every few decades. They also had to deal with deadly mudslides, in the process.

Nonetheless, despite all the hardships they faced, their peaceful society not only survived, it thrived. It was all based on a complex trade network, which went to Ecuador, and even hundreds of miles away, deep in the rain forests. So, the farmers in Caral grew chili peppers and guava, among many other crops.

The most important thing they produced, though, was cotton. Manufacturers used it to make several textiles, like clothing and fishing nets. Farmers wore the former, and traded the latter to fishermen, miles away in coastal towns. In this way, people in the aristocratic city-state subsisted mainly on shellfish and dried fish, although they had a fairly diverse diet, overall.

The people of Caral brilliantly capitalized on what could have been a disaster. 5,000 years ago, climate change altered the local seascape in the Pacific Ocean.

After the temperature changed, tuna and other big fish moved on to cooler waters. Meanwhile, anchovies and sardines moved in. These new marine products were caught with nets rather than hooks and lines, as people had been doing with the larger fish. Simply put, it became easier to catch smaller fish, in far greater numbers.

In this way, the greater number of fish that were being caught, with the use of more and more nets, allowed for a greater and greater surplus, which drove the economy. This made Caral the central trading hub, in the first major marketplace in the Americas.

As the mother civilization of the New World, the Caral-Supe society set the stage for Native American civilizations, far and wide. Without even knowing how to make pottery yet, they were already expert herbalists. They chewed coca leaves with lime, to enhance the cocaine. They also painted each other with an aphrodisiac, made from the achiote plant. Then, they engaged in orgiastic religious festivals.

The natives were flute-playing lovers, not blade-wielding fighters. Everything they did was based on cooperation, not competition. This is how they lived in peace, for a millennium, from 2600 BCE to 1600 BCE. However, all good things seem to come to an end.

Unfortunately for the people of Caral, every few decades, earthquakes would routinely break up the mountains. As a consequence of this, rubble would get swept away by torrential rains. This would then wash into the river, and out into the ocean. So, after a couple of centuries, the silt built up and sealed off the flow of water.

This filled the life-giving bays with sand, which prevailing winds then blew inland. Thus, with each passing year, the dunes grew bigger and more menacing on the horizon. In the end, the once fertile fields were all reclaimed, by the inhospitable desert, once more.

Denisovan DNA in Tibetan Cave Changes History of Early Humans in Asia

Denisovan DNA in Tibetan Cave Changes History of Early Humans in Asia

An international team has found evidence that could change our understanding of a mysterious species of early humans, the Denisovans. They have found DNA from these humans in a Buddhist cave on the Tibetan Plateau in China.

These finds are adding to experts’ knowledge of the mysterious Denisovans and how they interacted with modern humans as they migrated into Asia.

The Baisiya Karst Cave is approximately 10,400 feet (3,200 m) high on the rugged Tibetan Plateau. For the local Buddhist monks, the cave is a sacred site. Many years ago, a mysterious lower jawbone (mandible) was found in the cave and it has recently been re-examined. In 2019 researchers proposed it belonged to a Denisovan, but this was disputed.

The Xiahe mandible is the first Denisovan fossil to have been discovered outside of the Denisova Cave in Siberia. Unearthed in the Baishiya Karst Cave by a Tibetan monk in 1980, scientists used protein analysis in 2019 to identify the ancient human from this ancient jawbone.

Denisovans: Relatives of Modern Humans

About 40,000 years ago, this species of archaic human lived across Asia. A close relative of Neanderthals, the Denisovans even interbred with our ancestors.

Many modern Australasians and Asians have Denisovan ancestry. Almost no remains of the hominins have been found outside of the Denisova Cave in Siberia, after which the species is named.

Because of the scarcity of remains, the jawbone could provide precious insights into the extinct archaic human species. However, the only evidence that it was Denisovan was “based on a single amino acid position,” reports Cosmos.

Archaeologist Dongju Zhang of Lanzhou University and her colleagues wanted to prove once and for all that the jawbone was from a Denisovan and sought DNA which would be used as conclusive proof.

The Baishiya Karst Cave on the Tibetan Plateau in China has been exceptionally challenging for archaeologists. A sacred Buddhist site, the team was forced to work at night so as not to disturb worshipers.

Excavations in Sub-Zero Temperatures

In the winter of 2018, they worked with an international team on an intensive investigation of the cave. This excavation was terribly challenging. Because the cave is sacred to local Buddhists, the team could only work at night so as not to disturb the faithful during the day. They also had to remove all traces of their work before the morning and often worked in temperatures as low as –18°C (-0.4°F).

The experts dug deep into the soil of the cave. While they did not find any hominin bones, they found something even better: traces of mitochondrial DNA. This is a hugely important discovery. According to Science “Zhang’s team reports the first Denisovan ancient DNA found outside the Denisova Cave : mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) gleaned not from fossils, but from the cave sediments themselves.”

This is the first time that genetic evidence for the Denisovans has been found outside Siberia. The DNA was extracted from human remains in the topsoil. This was probably left behind in the poop and urine of the Denisovans.

In September 2019 scientists used epigenetics to work out the possible physical makeup of a Denisovan face. Their reconstruction won the 2019 Science magazine’s People’s Choice for Breakthrough of the Year.

Early Humans in Tibet

Bo Li of the Australian University of Wollongong told Cosmos that they have “detected ancient human fragments that matched mitochondrial DNA associated with Denisovans in four different layers of sediment deposited.” The sediment where the DNA has been dated to around 100,000 and 60,000 years ago and possibly as “recently as 45,000 years back, the time when modern humans were migrating to the eastern part of Asia,” reports News Click .

These findings change the history of early humans in Asia. The researchers wrote in Science that the DNA “extends the time of occupation of the Tibetan plateau by hominins.” Li and his colleagues were able to date the finds by using optical dating, which works by showing when they had been exposed to light.

By showing that DNA and dates can be gathered from sediment, this groundbreaking research is paving the way for “a new era of molecular caving,” explains Katerina Douka of the Max Planck Institute in Science.

The find is important because it is the first DNA to have been found outside the Denisovan Cave in Siberia. Unearthed some 1200 km from Siberia, the discoveries in the soil of the cave end a long search for Denisovan DNA outside of Siberia. They also provide further evidence that Denisovans were once widespread across Asia.

Scientists analyze sediment samples from the Baishiya Karst Cave at the lab. Their research has identified Denisovan DNA from as far back as 100,000 years ago.

Denisovan “Superathlete” Gene

But DNA wasn’t all they found. The team also unearthed several artifacts and other remains in the holy cave, as well as a great deal of charcoal which proves that the Denisovans used fire. Moreover, the experts found over 1,300 rudimentary tools and many animal bones, including some from hyenas and rhinos, both of which once roamed Tibet. It has also been speculated that they used the cave as a lookout from which to watch out for prey on the meadows below.

Finding the remains of Denisovans at such an altitude shows that the ancient species could cope with a range of environments and that they were highly adaptable. This ability was inherited by modern Tibetans, allowing them to survive in one of the world’s toughest environments.

Modern Tibetans inherited from the Denisovans “a ‘superathlete’ variant of a gene, called EPAS1,” explains Science. However, it only spread widely in the last 5,000 years and may indicate that the extinct archaic humans only lived seasonally in the cave.

More finds are expected to be made at the Baishiya Karst Cave site. Li told Cosmos that their “next target is to date more samples from the cave and try to answer when Denisovans started to occupy the cave and when they ‘disappear’ from the cave.” This could be crucial in understanding modern humans’ interactions with the archaic hominins and perhaps even solve the mystery of their extinction.

2,200-Year-Old Stone Armor Reveals Qin Shi Huang’s Legacy

2,200-Year-Old Stone Armor Reveals Qin Shi Huang’s Legacy

Excavations in 1998 and 2019 unearthed hoards of ancient stone armor in and around the Mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang, offering insights into the emperor’s military achievements and life. Now, a new study highlights how these discoveries represent various aspects of Qin Shi Huang’s military legacy.

In 1998, archaeologists in China discovered a stash of ancient stone armor in ‘Pit K9801 ,’ in the Mausoleum of the First Qin Dynasty Emperor, Qin Shi Huang, who ruled in the central Shaanxi Province from 221 to 210 BC.

Famous for having united China under a centralized imperial government, Qin Shi Huang constructed the Great Wall of China and commissioned the famous Terracotta Army as part of his elaborate tomb complex .

Digging Beneath the Money Tree

In 1998, archaeologists unearthed over 600 small limestone plates, which were connected to each other using bronze wires. In 2001, further stone armor products, and the tools used to make them, were found in a well in Xinfeng, by the Wei River, that dated to the Qin Dynasty .

Then, in 2019, archaeologists from the Shaanxi Academy of Archaeology excavated the Liujiagou site , beneath the barren bush to the north of the main burial site, near a high-rise building in Xianyang, the capital city of the Qin Dynasty.

Even more defective stone armor and tools were found, and all of the findings matched the previously excavated stone armor remains from Pit K9801, and from the site in Xinfeng.

Analyzing “32,292” Ancient Artifacts

A new study published in Science Direct, by professor Xuewei Zhang of the Bioarchaeology Laboratory, Jilin University , Changchun, says the 2019 discovery “is significant,” because it links two phases of Qin Shi Huang’s life and death. Furthermore, these archaeological finds illustrate funerary and burial processes within the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor.

In 2019, the team of archaeologists excavated an area of 144 m2, (1,550 sq ft) revealing a hoard of “32,392 artifacts,” according to the study. Some stone armor plates were rectangular in shape with drilled holes, polished surfaces, and treated edges, and “almost finished,” resembling previously excavated stone armor.

Furthermore, the artifacts represented a specific type of stone armor, and included production waste.

Tellingly, the team of archaeologists also discovered tools that were used in the production of the stone armor, which informed the researchers about the manufacturers craft skills and production methods. The new paper focuses on the production process of stone armor, and it breaks the methods down into its different stages.

Stone armor, Warring States period (457-221 B.C.), excavated in 1998 in the Terracotta Army buried near the Mausoleum of the First Emperor of Qin, in Lintong District of Xi’an, Shaanxi.

Almost Finished Stone Armor

Stone armor consists of front and rear tunics, pauldrons, and a tasset. The new analysis revealed the use of high-quality limestone with minimal joints as the raw material, and the researchers matched some “nearly finished,” broken plates, to their original armor sets.

The scientists also experimented with the wear patterns to better understand the perforation techniques used in making the stone armor. And after reconstructing the stone armor production process, the researchers found that the armor “was abandoned” before completion.

According to the new study, evidence suggests the process of making stone armor was similar to that of producing leather armor, by casting molds.

Furthermore, the stone armor production process consisted of “nine repetitive steps, potentially influenced by random variables.” And the new study also showed that the raw materials used to make the armor, “were not local but imported from distant locations”.

Stone armor helmet.

Stone Armor, For Afterlife Battles

The new study concluded that the 2019 excavation site was “a significant stone armor workshop during the Qin Dynasty.” However, in the practical world, stone armor offers limited protection, and is easily damaged when impacted, therefore it was unsuitable for use in combat.

Stone armor was used in ancient China to preserve grave goods during funerals, “because it decayed less rapidly than leather armor,” according to the new paper.

2,200 years ago, in China, stone armor was made primarily for funerary purposes, rather than for actual use in battles, but it imitated the style of armor used at that time.

Despite its practical limitations, the inclusion of stone armor and stone weapons in burials, such as that of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty, reflected the people’s reverence for all things military, and each piece of stone armor reflects the military power and authority wielded by various rulers during their lifetime.

Archaeologists Uncover 3,000-Year-Old Gold Mask In China Belonging To A Mysterious Ancient Society

Archaeologists Uncover 3,000-Year-Old Gold Mask In China Belonging To A Mysterious Ancient Society

A 3,000-year-old ceremonial gold mask has become an unexpected social media sensation in China after its recent discovery in Sichuan province.

The artefact was one of 500 Bronze-Age relics found at the Sanxingdui archaeological site. Experts say the discovery could provide new insights into the ancient Shu state, which ruled the area before 316 BC.

But the mysterious half-faced mask has also spawned a popular meme and tribute videos on social media.

As soon as the latest batch of discoveries was announced on Saturday, users of the microblogging platform Weibo started making pictures superimposing the mask on the faces of pop culture figures.

The mask was one of hundreds of ancient objects uncovered at the site

The hashtag “Sanxingdui gold mask photo editing competition” has been viewed nearly 4 million times, and has spawned numerous posts as netizens praised the “stunning” and “beautiful” mask.

Officials at the Museum for Sanxingdui – one of the most important archaeological sites in China – soon joined in on the fun.

“Good morning, we’ve just woken up, apparently everyone’s been busy doing some Photoshopping?” the museum said in a recent Weibo post while sharing its own take on the meme.

The museum also released a promotional animated music video starring the mask and other artefacts, while a rap song created by a TV host praising the “intelligence” of the ancient civilisation has gone viral.

It is not the first time a Chinese artefact has attracted the attention of social media users – in August, another relic was found to resemble the pig characters in the popular video game Angry Birds.

In addition to the gold mask, archaeologists at Sanxingdui have found bronze pieces, gold foils as well as artefacts made from ivory, jade and silk.

Archaeologists unearthed bronze and ivory artefacts at the site as well.

The items were uncovered in six “sacrificial pits”, said the National Cultural Heritage Administration, which the Shu civilisation used to offer sacrifices in prayers for prosperity and peace.

The Sanxingdui ruins were discovered by accident by a farmer in 1929. To date, more than 50,000 relics have been unearthed at the site, which is around 60km (37 miles) from the city of Chengdu.

72-million-year-old Perfectly Preserved Dinosaur Embryo Discovered Inside a Fossilized Egg In China

72-million-year-old Perfectly Preserved Dinosaur Embryo Discovered Inside a Fossilized Egg In China

A dinosaur embryo perfectly curled up in its fossilized egg was analyzed by a team of researchers in southeastern China.

The rundown: The fossil, estimated to be between 72 and 66 million years old, belonged to an oviraptorosaur — a beaked, toothless and omnivorous theropod that existed during the Cretaceous Period of what is now Asia and North America.

The embryo was estimated to be 27 centimeters (11 inches) long from head to tail. Researchers said the dinosaur, which would have fed on plants, would be 2-3 meters (79-118 inches) long had it lived to adulthood.

The embryo was close to hatching as evidenced by its “tucking” posture, a behavior seen in modern birds. Chicks preparing to hatch tuck their heads under their right-wing for stability as they crack the shell with their beak.

Modern birds are direct descendants of theropods, which are two-legged dinosaurs. Theropods include the Tyrannosaurus rex, spinosaurus and velociraptor, among others.

What the researchers are saying: Due to its complete structure, the fossil turned out to be one of the best dinosaur embryos found in history, the researchers told AFP. They called the creature “Baby Yingliang” after Yingliang Stone Nature History Museum, its current location.

“This skeleton is not only complete from the tip of the snout to the end of its tail; it is curled in a life pose within its egg as if the animal died just yesterday,” study co-author Darla Zelenitsky, an assistant professor of paleontology at the University of Calgary.

Lead author Waisum Ma, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Birmingham, said dinosaur embryos happen to be some of the rarest fossils. Most non-avian embryos are also incomplete, with bones separated at the joints.

“We are very excited about the discovery of ‘Baby Yingliang’ — it is preserved in great condition and helps us answer a lot of questions about dinosaur growth and reproduction with it,” Ma said.

“It is interesting to see this dinosaur embryo and a chicken embryo pose in a similar way inside the egg, which possibly indicates similar prehatching behaviours.”

The researchers said the embryo was found in Jiangxi province and acquired by Liang Liu, director of a Chinese stone company called Yingliang Group, in 2000.

It was stored and forgotten until museum staff found it some 10 years later, during the construction of Yingliang Stone Nature History Museum, according to CNN.

Embryos that don’t adopt the tucking posture are more likely to die as a result of unsuccessful hatching. The team plans to study the fossil further using advanced scanning techniques since part of its body remains covered by rock.

“Rock” Containing Stunning Agate Turns Out To Be 60-Million-Year-Old Dinosaur Egg

“Rock” Containing Stunning Agate Turns Out To Be 60-Million-Year-Old Dinosaur Egg

Back in 1883, a pretty agate mineral was registered to the Natural History Museum’s Mineralogy Collection. Around 15 centimeters (6 inches) across, almost completely spherical but otherwise unassuming, the specimen has remained in the collection for the last 175 years, until a chance finding revealed it to be a dinosaur egg.

The specimen’s pretty colors of light pink and white interior caught the eye of Robin Hansen, one of the Mineral Curators at the museum who helped prepare the specimen when it was selected to go on display in 2018. Then a trip to a mineral show in France helped reveal the significance of the rock.

‘While I was looking around the show, a dealer showed me an agatized dinosaur egg, which was spherical, had a thin rind, and dark agate in the middle,” recounts Hansen in a statement.

“That was the lightbulb moment when I thought: ‘Hang on a minute, that looks a lot like the one we’ve just put on display in the Museum!’”

The mineral was then inspected by dinosaur experts at the museum who decided to run a CT scan on the specimen to see what clues they could unveil. Unfortunately, the density of the agate meant the CT scan could not pick out any finer details.

On the plus side, the team agreed that the thin layer around the agate looked like a shell, and found that the outside of the specimen suggested that more than one object had been gathered together. 

Furthermore, the specimen was collected in India and the size, shape, and surface features are the same as those of other specimens of titanosaur eggs from China and Argentina.

The egg is thought to date back to 60 million years ago when titanosaurs were the most common dinosaurs living in India. Titanosaurs, despite their massive size, were thought to have laid clutches of around 30-40 eggs and had no parental care involvement with their offspring.

“This specimen is a perfect example of why museum collections are so important,” explained Hansen.

“It was identified and cataloged correctly as an agate in 1883 using the scientific knowledge available at the time.”

“It is only now that we have recognized that this specimen has something extra special – the agate has infilled this spherical structure, which turns out to be a dinosaur egg.”

The team thinks this occurred due to volcanic activity causing the egg to become encased in the solidified volcanic rock after an eruption.

The internal structures would have eventually decomposed, and the silica-rich water would have made its way through the rock and into the egg cavity, creating the banded agate specimen we see today.

4,000-year-old skeletons of a mother and her child embrace

4,000-year-old skeletons of a mother and her child embrace

Victims of an ancient earthquake that had once struck the Chinese community of Lajia are now on display at the Lajia Ruins Museum.

The ruins of Lajia are in Qinghai Province in Northwest China, near the Upper Yellow River. China People’s Daily has said that the site is bringing people to tears; victims are shown to be huddling together in what were their final moments. One display shows women embracing their children in an attempt to protect them.

Heartbreaking: Skeletal remains show the mother kneeling down on the ground with her arms around her son in central China

This scene is reminiscent of the victims of the Roman city Pompeii, which was destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD.

One difference is that the Pompeiian people are shown with such humanity because they have been preserved by volcanic ash and mud, while the skeletal remains at Lajia inspire horror.

An earthquake shook the ground around them, triggering a mudslide that came down and demolished a Bronze Age building that the people had taken cover in.

The building was a family home that the people ran into thinking they would be safe. On one of the walls preserved for all of the eternity is a woman embracing her child, her skull looking upwards as she caresses the child in her arms.

The remains of two children clinging to an adult lie against another wall. Upstairs, you will find another woman and child in almost the same position as the first two. These people are from the Bronze Age Qijia culture, their remains date back to around 2,000 BC, making them 4,000 years old.

Earlier this year the remains of a child clinging to his mother were displayed in Pompeii. There are no skeletons in Pompeii – the ancient mud and ash saw to that.

Pompeii was destroyed by a pyroclastic flow: an extremely fast-moving cloud of rock and hot gas that can move at speeds of 450 miles an hour. Given these speeds, it is instantaneous death for those that chose to ignore the warnings given by Vesuvius.

It hugs the ground while it moves and spreads laterally, consisting of two parts: a hot ash plume that hovers above and the basal flow that consists of heavy rocks.

The ash plume incinerates anything it touches while the basal flow destroys anything in its path. Herculaneum was also devastated when Vesuvius exploded.

It is unknown how many died when Vesuvius exploded but it is estimated to be between 10,000 and 25,000. Many victims perished at the city port while trying to take cover in warehouses that were near the dock.

Others tried to get to the last remaining boats while others ran for their homes, most likely then praying to their household gods.

The mother and child were discovered in what archaeologists call the House of the Golden Bracelet. The home of a wealthy family, the walls covered in frescoes and also contained a large garden. It was all carbonized when the 300 degree cloud hit.

“Even though it happened 2000 years ago, it could be a boy, a mother, or a family,” said Stefania Giudice of Naples National Archaeological Museum. “It’s not just archaeology; it’s human archaeology.”

Now branded as the “Pompeii of the East,” the poor town of Lajia is now one of the most important archaeology sites in China.

Mirrors, oracle bones, and stone knives are just a few of the artifacts found at the site.

The victims of Lajia were first found in 2000 in a loess cave, one of many in the settlement that consisted of caves and houses.

518 Million-Year-Old-Rocks Suggest Animal And Human Life May Have First Emerged In China

518 Million-Year-Old-Rocks Suggest Animal And Human Life May Have First Emerged In China

A new study based on an analysis of 518 million-year-old rocks that contain the oldest collection of fossils that researchers have on record. The researchers believe that Chengjian, a city in the mountainous Yunnan Province of China, is the origin of many of today’s species, including humans.

This site is where complex organisms first developed, an event known as the ‘Cambrian Explosion’, a major time period in the history of the Earth.

The ancestors of many animal species alive today may have lived in a delta in what is now China, new research suggests.

Arthropod (Naroia)

The Cambrian Explosion, more than 500 million years ago, saw the rapid spread of bilaterian species—symmetrical along a central line, like most of today’s animals (including humans).

The 518-million-year-old Chengjiang Biota—in Yunnan, southwest China—is one of the oldest groups of animal fossils currently known to science and a key record of the Cambrian Explosion.

Fossils of more than 250 species have been found there, including various worms, arthropods (ancestors of living shrimps, insects, spiders, scorpions), and even the earliest vertebrates (ancestors of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals).

The Cambrian seas teemed with new types of animals, such as the predator Anomalocaris (center)

The new study finds for the first time that this environment was a shallow -marine, nutrient-rich delta affected by storm floods. The area is now on land in the mountainous Yunnan Province, but the team studied rock core samples that show evidence of marine currents in the past environment.

“The Cambrian Explosion is now universally accepted as a genuine rapid evolutionary event, but the causal factors for this event have been long debated, with hypotheses on environmental, genetic, or ecological triggers,” said senior author Dr. Xiaoya Ma, a palaeobiologist at the University of Exeter and Yunnan University.

“The discovery of a deltaic environment shed new light on understanding the possible causal factors for the flourishing of these Cambrian bilaterian animal-dominated marine communities and their exceptional soft-tissue preservation.

“The unstable environmental stressors might also contribute to the adaptive radiation of these early animals.”

Co-lead author Farid Saleh, a sedimentologist and taphonomic at Yunnan University, said: “We can see from the association of numerous sedimentary flows that the environment hosting the Chengjiang Biota was complex and certainly shallower than what has been previously suggested in the literature for similar animal communities.”

Changshi Qi, the other co-lead author, and a geochemist at Yunnan University added: “Our research shows that the Chengjiang Biota mainly lived in a well-oxygenated shallow-water deltaic environment.

“Storm floods transported these organisms down to the adjacent deep oxygen-deficient settings, leading to the exceptional preservation we see today.”

Fish (Myllokunmingia)

Co-author Luis Buatois, a palaeontologist and sedimentologist at the University of Saskatchewan, said: “The Chengjiang Biota, as is the case of similar faunas described elsewhere, is preserved in fine-grained deposits.

“Our understanding of how these muddy sediments were deposited has changed dramatically during the last 15 years.

“Application of this recently acquired knowledge to the study of fossiliferous deposits of exceptional preservation will change dramatically our understanding of how and where these sediments accumulated.”

The results of this study are important because they show that most early animals tolerated stressful conditions, such as salinity (salt) fluctuations, and high amounts of sediment deposition. This contrasts with earlier research suggesting that similar animals colonized deeper-water, more stable marine environments.

“It is hard to believe that these animals were able to cope with such a stressful environmental setting,” said M. Gabriela Mángano, a palaeontologist at the University of Saskatchewan, who has studied other well-known sites of exceptional preservation in Canada, Morocco, and Greenland.

Lobopodian worm (Luolishania)

Maximiliano Paz, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Saskatchewan who specializes in fine-grained systems, added: “Access to sediment cores allowed us to see details in the rock which are commonly difficult to appreciate in the weathered outcrops of the Chengjiang area.”

This work is an international collaboration between Yunnan University, the University of Exeter, the University of Saskatchewan, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the University of Lausanne, and the University of Leicester.

The research was funded by the Chinese Postdoctoral Science Foundation, the Natural Science Foundation of China, the State Key Laboratory of Palaeobiology and Stratigraphy, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the George J. McLeod Enhancement Chair in Geology.

Exquisite jewellery from the past was discovered in a Chinese woman’s tomb.

Exquisite jewellery from the past was discovered in a Chinese woman’s tomb.

A 1,500-year-old tomb unearthed in China was found to contain spectacular golden jewelry inlaid with gemstones and amethysts and a 5,000 bead necklace.

A number of burials from the Northern Wei Dynasty, which this tomb belongs to, have yielded beautiful gold earrings, but experts have said the earrings discovered in this tomb are the most exquisite to have been found from this time period.

Live Science reports that the tomb was first discovered in 2011 but the finding has only recently been described in the journal Chinese Cultural Relics .

The burial was discovered in Datong City, Shanxi Province, by the Datong Municipal Institute of Archaeology, who were assessing a site prior to a construction project.

Datong City was founded in 200BC and located near the Great Wall Pass to Inner Mongolia.

It flourished during the following period and became a resting place for camel caravans traveling from China to Mongolia.

In the 4th and 5th centuries AD, the same era as the burial, Datong (then named Pincheng) became the capital of the Northern Wei Dynasty.

This was also the period that the famous Yungang Grottoes were constructed.

An epitaph found in the tomb’s entrance revealed that the tomb belonged to a woman named Farong, who was the wife of a magistrate.

Farong Tomb

Her skeleton, which was not well preserved, was found in a coffin with her skull resting on a pillow of lime.

The gold earrings have ornate designs, inlaid gemstones, gold chains and amethysts. They contain images of dragons and a human face.

“The human figure has curly hair, deep-set eyes and a high nose; wears a pendant with a sequin-bead pattern on its neck; and has inverted lotus flowers carved under its shoulders,” wrote archaeologists in the journal article.

The necklace was made with around 5,000 beads, including 10 gold beads, 9 gold pieces, 2 crystals, 42 pearls, and over 4,800 glass beads.

The jewelry found in the 1,500-year-old tomb in Datong City. Credit: Chinese Cultural Relics

Interestingly, gold earrings with very similar designs have been found in northern Afghanistan, suggesting trade between the two cultures in ancient times.

Gold earrings have been recovered from numerous other Northern Wei Dynasty tombs, such as those pictured below, but archaeologists have said that the earrings found in this tomb are among the most beautiful ever found from this period.

Archaeological Treasure Trove! 21 Royal Han Tombs Unearthed in China

Archaeological Treasure Trove! 21 Royal Han Tombs Unearthed in China

Archeologists exploring a mountainside in China have discovered 21 tombs dating back 2,000 years. The presence of luxury artifacts and a rare “couple’s grave” suggests this was an ancient royal burial site.

The discovery of the 2,000-year-old royal tombs was made at the Changsha archaeological site, which is located just over 665 miles (1,000 kilometers) southwest of Shanghai. Located in the present-day Hunan district, the ancient Changsha Kingdom was founded in 203 or 202 BC and represented the largest and longest-lasting kingdom of the Han Empire of China.

The discovery of the 21 tombs was announced earlier this week by a team of archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology , at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and Hunan Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology.

Located along a remote mountainside, the researchers said the tombs have laid buried for two millennia and that they “potentially held regal past, but not anymore”.

21 Vertical Pits Loaded with Ancient Artifacts

The imperial Han dynasty of ancient China was established by Liu Bang around 200 BC and was subsequently ruled by the House of Liu. This dynasty was preceded by the short-lived Qin dynasty , and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms period from 220 to 280 AD, which represented the tripartite division of China among the dynastic states of Cao Wei , Shu Han, and Eastern Wu.

On Tuesday this week, via China’s state-affiliated news outlet, Xinhua, the Institute of Archaeology at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences announced that a team of archaeologists have excavated “21 vertical pit tombs containing over 200 artifacts.”

One particular tomb was filled with pottery grave goods that dated back 2,000 years to the Western Han Dynasty, which the team of researchers said flourished during the earlier half of the Han dynasty, from about 200 BC to 25 AD.

Photo of the ancient Han tomb after the fill was removed. The Chinese burial tomb contained numerous luxury artifacts.

Rows of Tombs Whispering Ancient Royal Secrets

The archaeologists said they grouped the 21 tombs into two types: “tombs with passageways and tombs without.” Many of the tombs were found side-by-side; at one end of the site, three tombs were found in a row, while at the other end four further tombs were lined up together.

One of the 21 tombs unearthed in Changsha held the remains of five decaying pillars and outer coffins shaped like “Ⅱ” or like double ‘I’s, according to the press release.

The researchers said this type of double layered tomb “is rarely found in the Hunan province.” In this tomb, excavators recovered “two iron relics, walls covered in glaze and a mineral known as talc and a tan-colored talc disk (or bi) with a rhombus and circle pattern.” Furthermore, it is thought that the rare “pair of tombs” may have accommodated the joint burials of a husband and wife.

The picture shows the unearthed talc bi, decorated with lozenge pattern + dotted pattern, recovered from the ancient Han dynasty tomb

After studying the assemblage of 21 tombs, which are all of a similar age, the archaeologists concluded they likely belonged to “a royal family buried together in an ancient mausoleum”.

Looking To Ancient Chinese Texts for Answers

The Lunheng is a wide-ranging classical Chinese classic text written by Wang Chong around 27-100 AD, containing detailed essays about ancient Chinese mythology , natural science, philosophy, and literature.

These texts describe Western Han imperial burial practices as having involved “sacrificial offerings” at ancestral temples, which accounts for the amount of pottery vessels and grave goods discovered among the 21 tombs.

Well-known examples of Western Han tombs have been excavated in the past, including Mawangdui and the tombs of Liu Sheng , prince of Zhongshan and his wife, Dou Wan.

The tomb at Mawangdui was a nested tomb and the “paired tombs” of Liu Sheng and his wife, Dou Wan were cave tombs . It is known that “couple burials” emerged as the standard form of royal burial during the late Han period, along with the pairing of male/female motifs in the styling of the tombs.

This is why the archaeologists point towards their discovery of a rare “paired tomb” as the smoking gun for this being the burial site of a Han “royal” family.

The ornate jade burial suit of Liu Sheng and his wife Dou Wan, the first undisturbed Western Han tomb ever discovered