Nation

Treasures from the deep cast new light on Ming Dynasty

A person involved in excavations shows a gold item unearthed from a site south of Chengdu.

A person involved in excavations shows a gold item unearthed from a site south of Chengdu.

gold tiger seal

gold tiger seal

a gold ingot and two pieces of gold jewelry

a gold ingot and two pieces of gold jewelry

MORE than 10,000 gold and silver items that sank to the bottom of a river in southwest China’s Sichuan Province more than 300 years ago have been recovered.

The items include a large amount of gold, silver and bronze coins and jewelry as well as iron weapons such as swords, knives and spears, said Gao Dalun, who is director of Sichuan’s Cultural Relics and Archeology Research Institute.

The characters carved in the gold and silver utensils are still clear, archeologists said, and the embossed patterns on the jewelry show exquisite craftsmanship.

The treasure site, which is at the intersection of the Min and Jin rivers, is some 50 kilometers south of Chengdu, the provincial capital.

It is said that in 1646, peasant uprising leader Zhang Xianzhong suffered a defeat in the area by Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) soldiers while he was attempting to transfer his treasure to safety in the south.

About 1,000 boats loaded with money and valuables sank during the skirmish.

“The objects have helped identify the area where the battle was fought and are direct evidence of this historical event,” said archeologist Wang Wei.

Sichuan launched the exploration project in January when the dry season arrived. Several water pumps were used to drain water away day and night.

Hundreds of meters of the river bed appeared after archeologists dug 5 meters down, where they came upon the relics.

“The items are extremely valuable to science, history and art. They are of great significance for research into the political, economic, military and social lives of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644),” said Li Boqian, an archeologist from Peking University.

Archeologists said that the excavation will last until next month and the team expects to unearth more items.

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