Zoroastrianism was the state religion of the ancient Persian Empire. Its founder, Zoroaster, or Zarathustra, is thought to have been born in what is now Northeast Iran or Southwest Afghanistan. A 2004 survey by the Zoroastrian Associations of North America put the estimated number of believers worldwide at between 124,000 and 190,000.
Now, archaeologists in Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region have discovered major Zoroastrian tombs, dated to over 2,500 years ago. This unravelling is leading to startling controversial speculation about the religion’s origin. Read more.
In Australia these days, China seems to shadow the antipodean nation’s future. China’s appetite for natural resources has reshaped Australia’s economy, and the disruptive threat of its expanding navy has led Australian officials to approve the deployment of U.S. marines on Australian soil.
We hear far less about China’s role in the continent’s far past. But a team of amateur Australian archaeologists found a curious piece of evidence linking the Chinese to a much earlier age in Australia’s history. On a recent expedition to a remote island off the coast of the Northern Territory, the archaeologists, who call themselves the Past Masters, unearthed an 18th-century Qing dynasty coin. “It certainly shows the contact between Northern Australia and the trade with the Middle Kingdom, with China,” Mike Owen, a member of the expedition, told Australia’s ABC television network. Read more.
A 2,100-year-old mausoleum built for a king named Liu Fei has been discovered in modern-day Xuyi County in Jiangsu, China, archaeologists report.
Liu Fei died in 128 B.C. during the 26th year of his rule over a kingdom named Jiangdu, which was part of the Chinese empire.
Although the mausoleum had been plundered, archaeologists found that it still contained more than 10,000 artifacts, including treasures made of gold, silver, bronze, jade and lacquer. They also found several life-size chariot and dozens of smaller chariots. Read more.
Even as he conquered rival kingdoms to create the first united Chinese empire in 221 B.C., China’s First Emperor Qin Shihuang ordered the building of a glorious underground palace complex, mirroring his imperial capital near present-day Xi’an, that would last for an eternity.
To protect his underworld palaces, the First Emperor issued instructions that his imperial guard be replicated, down to the finest details, in red-brown terracotta clay, poised to do battle. Thousands of these imperial guards were initially discovered in 1974; some contained patches of pigment that had survived 22 centuries buried underground, along with minute remnants of binding media that had aided in the creation of this polychrome Terracotta Army.
Efforts to conserve, and perhaps even restore, these remarkable examples of sculpture in the round from the first empire have been hampered by the failure of a series of scientific experiments to pinpoint the binding material used in applying pigments to Qin Shihuang’s underground army. Read more.
An ancient bronze ware item that had been floating around overseas for nearly a century was finally returned to China yesterday from the New York-based fine arts auction house Christie’s after an agreement was made with Chinese collectors.
The bronze item is a body of a wine vessel known as Minfanglei and is considered to represent one of the greatest pieces in the golden era of Chinese bronze in the Shang Dynasty (1600 BC -1046 BC), according to CRI. Before now, China only had the lid on display. Both pieces will now be preserved at the Hunan Provincial Museum. Read more.
For thousands of years, Mother Nature has taken the blame for tremendous human suffering caused by massive flooding along the Yellow River, long known in China as the “River of Sorrow” and “Scourge of the Sons of Han.”
Now, new research from Washington University in St. Louis links the river’s increasingly deadly floods to a widespread pattern of human-caused environmental degradation and related flood-mitigation efforts that began changing the river’s natural flow nearly 3,000 years ago.
"Human intervention in the Chinese environment is relatively massive, remarkably early and nowhere more keenly witnessed than in attempts to harness the Yellow River," said T.R. Kidder, PhD, lead author of the study and an archaeologist at Washington University. Read more.
NANJING — Archaeologists have discovered more than 100 Eastern Han Dynasty (24-220 AD) tombs in east China’s Jiangsu Province.
The graves in Pizhou City are mostly two meters long and a meter wide, They lie under a large pool and were found when the pool was drained, Ma Yongqiang, a researcher with the Institute of Archaeology of Nanjing Museum told Xinhua on Saturday.
Such a large cluster of Han tombs are a rare discovery and valuable for studies on funeral customs of the time. The tombs were buried only 20 to 30 centimeters beneath the earth and about two dozens have been plundered. Read more.
Two men whose remains were recently excavated from tombs in western China put their pants on one leg at a time, just like the rest of us. But these nomadic herders did so between 3,300 and 3,000 years ago, making their trousers the oldest known examples of this innovative apparel, a new study finds.
With straight-fitting legs and a wide crotch, the ancient wool trousers resemble modern riding pants, says a team led by archaeologists Ulrike Beck and Mayke Wagner of the German Archaeological Institute in Berlin. The discoveries, uncovered in the Yanghai graveyard in China’s Tarim Basin, support previous work suggesting that nomadic herders in Central Asia invented pants to provide bodily protection and freedom of movement for horseback journeys and mounted warfare, the scientists report May 22 in Quaternary International. Read more.