Archaeologists excavate 5,500-year-old cemetery in northwest China

Xinhua Published: 2017-11-10 19:12:45
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<br>A painted pottery basin excavated from the 5,500-year-old cemetery to the northeast of the Yangguanzhai ruins in Shaanxi Province. [Photo: Sina]

A painted pottery basin excavated from the 5,500-year-old cemetery to the northeast of the Yangguanzhai ruins in Shaanxi Province. [Photo: Sina]

Archaeologists are currently excavating a 5,500-year-old cemetery which is estimated to have more than 2,000 graves, authorities in northwest China's Shaanxi Province announced Thursday.

Covering around 90,000 square meters, the cemetery is to the northeast of the Yangguanzhai ruins, which belonged to a late Neolithic group known as the Yangshao that originated from the middle reaches of the Yellow River and is considered a main precursor of Chinese civilization.

The excavation of the site began in 2015, and so far, 339 graves had been found in an area of 3,800 square meters, half of which have been excavated, according to Yang Liping, who leads the project.

Yang said that the total number of graves in the densely distributed cemetery is estimated to surpass 2,000. Most of the grave owners died during middle age, with women outnumbering men.

In some burial sites, archaeologists have found suspected traces of textile fabrics around human bones.

"There are no wooden coffins. The dead may have been wrapped in fabric when they were buried," said Yang.

Painted pottery, bone beads, hair clasps made with bones and earrings made with stone or pottery, pigments and tortoise shell have also been found in the graves.

Archaeologists are working with researchers from Fudan University to figure out the blood relationship between those in the cemetery through whole genome sequencing. 

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