Excavation site of China's first dragon-shaped art object identified

14:58, November 03, 2010      

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The excavation site of a half-circle dragon-shaped topaz object, the first dragon-shaped art object in China, was recently identified by archaeologists from the Ongniud Banner Museum and the Inner Mongolia Archaeological Team from the Institute of Archaeology under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) after two years of field investigations. The academic question as to where the topaz object was unearthed was finally answered after puzzling archaeologists for more than 20 years.

The topaz object was donated to the Ongniud Banner Museum in 1987, and later listed among Class A relics under state protection. Generally regarded as the first dragon-shaped art object in China, the object has been the subject of great attention from domestic and foreign archaeologists who are interested in Hongshan Culture.

As the excavation site of the topaz object was previously unknown, archaeologists became divided on its production date. Some consider it a typical object of Hongshan Culture dating back to between 5,000 and 6,500 years ago, but others said it was made more than 4,000 years ago, and is thus a relic of the Lower Xiajiadian Culture.

To solve the puzzle, the Institute of Archaeology under CASS included the mission of finding the object's excavation site in the Project of Tracing the Source of Chinese Civilization in early 2008. The Inner Mongolia Archaeological Team and the Ongniud Banner Museum jointly carried out careful field investigations, interviewed more than 100 relevant people and collected thousands of physical specimens at the site of the Hongshan Culture in the Ongniud Banner District. In late October 2010, they finally determined that the topaz object was unearthed from the site of the Hongshan Culture in Xindi Village, Wudan Town, Ongniud Banner District, Inner Mongolia.

Liu Guoxiang, a research fellow at the Institute of Archaeology under CASS and leader of the Inner Mongolia Archaeological Team, said that detailed investigations in the past two years have proved that the elegant dragon-shaped topaz object, which is superior in raw material and excellent in workmanship, has obvious features of the Hongshan Culture in design and workmanship. It is a masterpiece of the jade objects of the Hongshan Culture and can be regarded as a national treasure.

The identification of the excavation site has shown that the topaz object is a high-class object of the Hongshan Culture. This is a major finding of the third regional survey into cultural relics in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and one of the first fruits of the Project of Tracing the Source of Chinese Civilization.

By People's Daily Online

(Editor:王寒露)

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