The remains of a gold mask are among a huge cache of 3,000-year-old artifacts found at an archaeological site in China's Sichuan province, CNN reports.
Archaeologists uncover 3,000-year-old gold mask in southwest China
STEPANAKERT, MARCH 23 , ARTSAKHPRESS: Weighing about 280 grams (0.6 pounds) and estimated to be made from 84% gold, the ceremonial mask is one of over 500 items unearthed from six newly discovered "sacrificial pits," according to the country's National Cultural Heritage Administration.
The finds were made at Sanxingdui, a 4.6-square-mile area outside the provincial capital of Chengdu. Some experts say the items may shine further light on the ancient Shu state, a kingdom that ruled in the western Sichuan basin until it was conquered in 316 BC.
In addition to the gold mask, archaeologists uncovered bronzes, gold foils and artifacts made from ivory, jade and bone. The six pits, of which the largest has a footprint of 19 square meters (205 square feet), also yielded an as-yet-unopened wooden box and a bronze vessel with owl-shaped patterning.
More than 50,000 ancient artifacts have been found at Sanxingdui since the 1920s, when a local farmer accidentally came upon a number of relics at the site. A major breakthrough occurred in 1986, with the discovery of two ceremonial pits containing over 1,000 items, including elaborate and well-preserved bronze masks.