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Royal altar of heaven discovered in Shaanxi


The site of a royal altar of heaven dating back to the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) has been discovered in Fengxiang County in Shaanxi province. Experts believe it is the oldest such site ever discovered in China.

Royal altar of heaven discovered in Shaanxi
Aerial view of the excavation site in Fengxiang, Shaanxi province 
[Credit: China Daily]
The site is located in the village of Banpopu, where a team of archaeologists began excavation in July. Important ruins include a mound altar, along with walls, buildings, roads and sacrificial pits. More than 1,900 items that were used in worship ceremonies, such as jade figures and chariots, have also been dug out.

Royal altar of heaven discovered in Shaanxi
Artefacts unearthed from an ancient sacrificial site in Fengxiang, Shaanxi province 
[Credit: China Daily]
Royal altar of heaven discovered in Shaanxi
A wooden vehicle unearthed from from an ancient sacrificial site in Fengxiang, Shaanxi province 
[Credit: China Daily]
Experts believe that Qin and Han emperors held worship activities at the site for over 700 years. Liu Qingzhu, a noted archaeologist, explained that the ruins and relics match records from the Han Dynasty, and the structure is consistent with that of the Zhi, a place for rulers to worship the heavens during the Qin and Han Dynasties. Therefore, the new site is the earliest and largest "royal altar of heaven" ever found in China.

Royal altar of heaven discovered in Shaanxi
A crossbow mechanism from an ancient sacrificial site in Fengxiang, Shaanxi province 
[Credit: China Daily]
This discovery reaffirms historical records relating to worship activities held in Yong, the ancient name for Fengxiang; it also provides physical evidence for worship activities carried out in the Qin and Han Dynasties. The finding is important for the study of ritual culture and political systems during that period.

Source: People's Daily [December 07, 2016]
TANN

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