Three Stars Mound
August 18, 2015 12:25 PM   Subscribe

In 1986, workers in Sichuan province in China were digging for clay for bricks when they stumbled onto an archaeological treasure: a major site for a Bronze Age civilization previously only guessed at. The civilization, called Sanxingdui (wikipedia), had an art style unlike any other Chinese civilization previously encountered. Archaeologists had suspected there was a major city in the area since an early jade find in 1929 and a team went to work immediately, unearthing burial pits and gorgeous artifacts. (More history of the site.) An exhibit of treasures from Sanxingdui is on display in Houston until September; a permanent display can be found at a museum dedicated to the culture in Chengdu. Meanwhile, archaeologists continue to discover more of the city (warning: autoplay video) and even the remains of some of the inhabitants.
posted by immlass (6 comments total) 48 users marked this as a favorite
I feel so bad for watching the video and thinking of this.
posted by markkraft at 1:31 PM on August 18, 2015

The only reason I was sad that my summer trip to Houston was delayed was because I really, really wanted to see this exhibit before it left.
posted by dejah420 at 1:32 PM on August 18, 2015

This is really cool!

The artifacts in particular are fascinating - I like the stylized bird head that looks like it was knocked off of Judge Dredd's shoulder pad.
posted by Artw at 1:33 PM on August 18, 2015

Tour the art, courtesy of the Google Cultural Institute..
posted by markkraft at 1:42 PM on August 18, 2015 [7 favorites]

Wow, that Google Cultural Institute link is worth checking out, and I say that as someone who was lucky enough to make it to Houston to see the exhibit last week. (It was fabulous, and I recommend it if you get a chance before it leaves on September 7.)
posted by immlass at 4:02 PM on August 18, 2015

I was very fortunate to visit Sanxingdui Museum in 2012. It is one of the most beautiful museums and exhibits I have ever seen, and even the gift shop had spot-on replicas of many of the artifacts. The most impressive part for me, aside from the bronze sculptures, was that there were a forest of fossilized trees. They even had a bisection of a massive tree root, and put it underneath a glass flooring. There were also the bronze trees, which are some of the earliest "Genesis" style trees.

Fun fact - the logo for Chengdu Airlines is based on the "Sun Disc with Phoenix" carving, which is a thin round of gold leaf that was cut meticulously with knives that the Jinsha civilization designed. I think the Sun Disc is one of the finest artworks ever produced in human civilization, and is perfectly timeless in its design.

P.S. - Chengdu in Sichuan Province is an amazing place to visit. Giant panda reserve, Sanxingdui, amazing feats of thousand-year old engineering with local rivers and dams, and delicious, delicious food.
posted by yueliang at 4:10 PM on August 22, 2015 [2 favorites]

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