The Mystery of Sanxingdui
In 1929, jade and stone artifacts were discovered in Sichuan, but the importance of this finding wasn’t understood until 1986, when two pits of Bronze Age riches were excavated by archaeologists. In these pits, there were 100 elephant tusks, jade, and bronze sculptures that measured 8 feet high; this demonstrates an impressive technical ability that was not present anywhere else in the world at the time! It was found that these exhumed treasures came from a lost civilization, Sanxingdui; Sanxingdui was a major ancient Chinese walled city located on the banks of the Minjiang River, and it is believed that the culture was destroyed sometime between 3,000 and 2,800 years ago.
14 years ago, archaeologists found remains from another ancient city called Jinsha, and these findings had similarities between the artifacts previously found at Sanxingdui. New research is suggesting that an earthquake that happened nearly 3,000 years ago may be the culprit in the disappearance of one of China’s ancient civilizations. It is believed that an earthquake may have caused catastrophic landslides and destruction, forcing the city’s inhabitants to divert to a new location; in addition, it is believed that the earthquake might have caused landslides that obstructed the river, forcing it to reroute to Jinsha; this reduced water supply could have been the reason why the people from Sanxingdui may have relocated to Jinsha. There are some historical records supporting this theory, however as ancient writers in 1099 B.C. recorded an earthquake in the capital of the Zhou dynasty, in the Shaanxi province. Now, even though this is roughly 250 miles away from Sanxingdui, at that point in time records were not generally kept so there is a possibility that the epicenter of the earthquake was actually close to Sanxingdui, it just wasn’t recorded at that location. There is also geographical evidence that suggests that there was an earthquake that occurred in the general region sometime between 3,330 and 2,200 years ago, and the geological sediments also suggest that massive flooding did occur. All in all, the findings do hint at a major earthquake occurrence that triggered a landslide that blocked and rerouted the rivers flow, but keep in mind this theory is still very speculative. While the geological story is definitely possible, the mystery of Sanxingdui continues as it still doesn’t answer the question, why would these people bury their culture into two pits, and why didn’t their culture reemerge at Jinsha?