Two months ago a brickyard worker in Baoshan (保山) was clearing land with a bulldozer when he unearthed what looked to him like a green sword. What he had stumbled upon has turned out to be a Bronze Age burial site, Life newspaper is reporting.
What was once slated to be a factory in Longquan Village (龙泉村) is now an archaeological dig that has unearthed 100 graves containing dozens of bronze artifacts, including the 60-centimeter crescent sword. Archaeologists working on the 2,500-year old graves have exhumed bronze bells, ornamental weapons and belt buckles alongside amber beads and the remnants of ancient clothing.
Head archaeologist from the Baoshan Bureau of Cultural Relics, Wang Lirui (王黎锐), told Life that besides being interesting from a historical standpoint, the find may shed much-needed light on a society largely unknown outside of China. Wang referred to the discovery as shocking and said:
In my thirty-year career I have never seen anything similar. Archaeologists can go through their entire lives and not encounter a find like this.
The site is located in the Ailao Mountains (哀牢山) and has been attributed to an ancient kingdom of the same name. Little detail is known of the Ailao people other than that they were a largely pastoral society comprised of several different ethnic groups, centered around the Nu River in northwest Yunnan.
Archaeologists and historians are hoping the dig in Baoshan may reveal Ailao cultural traits and begin to explain how much the kingdom interacted with Han Chinese during the Warring States period.
Wang said he expects preliminary excavations on the now cordoned-off area to be finished before Spring Festival. A thorough survey of the region is scheduled to begin after the holiday and will focus on discovering more tombs.
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