Bronze Age Artifacts Reveal the Fairy World of Ancient China

A series of pits at an archaeological site in Sichuan, China revealed a bronze sculpture of a snake with a human head and many other artifacts made of jade, bronze, and gold. The site is called Sanxingdui and it also contained a bronze box with jade and gold masks and a bronze altar. Scientists believe that the complex and imaginative sculptures reflected the fairy world that people, at the time, demonstrated the diversity and richness of the Chinese civilization.

A bronze mask found at the Sanxingdui site in the 1980s.The Archaeological Site in Sichuan, China, Has Yielded 13,000 Artifacts

The first two pits in Sichuan, China were excavated back in the 1980s and six others have been excavated since 2020. The archaeologists have since discovered some 13,000 artifacts that probably date to the Bronze Age which was between 4,500 and 3,000 years ago. Apparently, the first two pits contained artifacts similar to those discovered in the recently excavated ones. So far, there’s no evidence that the artifacts were part of a human burial or cremation, showing that the pits were not funerary at all.

The Artifacts Unearthed in China Might Have Served a Ritual Purpose

The Sanxingdui archeological dig site in Sichuan, ChinaThe artifacts found in the pit might have actually served a ritual purpose. This hypothesis is further backed by the fact that some items show signs of being deliberately burned or broken. The purposeful burning and breakage of such valuable materials, such as bronze and jade, shows that they served an important ritual purpose. Ritual breaking and burning, in many human societies, were often about communion or a sanctified passage with a world beyond. Such burials of artifacts could’ve been the attempt of locals in ancient China to move their society through crises by getting help from another realm.

Scientists seem to agree that ritual destruction was important for the people who used the location in Sichuan, China. The pits may even reflect intentional episodes of ritualized destruction that could have occurred periodically. Such public destruction of wealth by political, social, or spiritual leaders would’ve been very important for the Sanxingdui society.