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

XINHUA logo XINHUA 06/01/2022 Yao Yulin,Gui Juan,Yuan Yueming,unreguser
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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)

ZHENGZHOU, Jan. 6 (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 labor 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. 

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