Sacred bronze tree found in Sanxingdui sacrifice pit

Sacred bronze tree found in Sanxingdui sacrifice pit
Sacred bronze tree found in Sanxingdui sacrifice pit

Excavation of one of six recently discovered sacrifice pits at the Sanxingdui Bronze Age archaeological site in Sichuan province in southwestern China has unearthed a sacred bronze tree from the Shu culture dating from the 12th to 11th centuries BC. According to the CGTN (video can be seen below), it was found in pit number 3 and it turned out to be so difficult that it took archaeologists four months to fully excavate it. Fairly well-preserved branches, flowers, some parts of the trunk and ornaments of the tree were buried under thick layers of ivory and other artifacts.

It is worth noting that sacred trees have been found in this place before. So, during the excavation of pit number 2 in 1986, hundreds of parts from bronze trees were discovered, most of which were small in size. According to scientists, there were 6-8 trees in total, but only three of them could be assembled from the available parts. One of them - a colossal specimen that took conservatives a decade to reassemble - is now on display as the centerpiece of the Sanxingdui Museum's exceptional artifact collection. At the same time, it was not fully restored, since some parts of it are missing.

It (tree from hole number 2) is a three-legged base with a trunk growing from it. The trunk is divided into three levels with three branches curving downward. Flowers bloom on the tops of all nine branches, on which birds sit. Each branch, in turn, branches into three fruiting branches, thus, there are 27 fruits on the tree in total. A thin dragon with a horned head descends down the lower part of the body, resting its foot on the base.

It is important to say here that there is very little specific information about the Shu people, since no written evidence has survived to this day. Archaeological evidence and later chroniclers indicate that the Shu religion was based on sun worship and bronze trees may have been a part of it. The Shu legend of the Ten Suns says that birds carry nine suns on their backs, arriving in the morning from a sacred tree in the East and landing at night on a sacred tree in the West. According to legend, people only saw birds, not the suns they carried, so they lived their lives carelessly unaware that there were other suns besides the one we know.

According to archaeologists excavating, the new tree looks like bronze tree No. 2. And it cannot be ruled out that they could be one project. It is therefore quite possible that when the newly discovered tree is restored, it will explain many academic questions. But the archaeologists plan to start this work after studying all the sacrificial pits, that is, when full information about their contents is received. By the way, according to experts, altogether the sacrificial pit No. 3 contains more than 100 items of ivory and bronze dishes. In general, the Sanxingdui ruins are recognized as one of the most important discoveries of the 20th century and represent a treasury filled with ceramic, jade, bronze and gold items, which are about 3000 years old. And since the excavation of the sacrificial pits is still ongoing, there is no doubt that new treasures have yet to be discovered by archaeologists.

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