Updated: 12/02/2013 20:44 | By Agence France-Presse

Skull find shows women were sacrificed in ancient China

Archaeologists in China have unearthed the skulls of more than 80 young women who may have been sacrificed more than 4,000 years ago, state media reported Monday. 


Skull find shows women were sacrificed in ancient China

This picture taken on October 10, 2013 shows ancient buildings in the Shimao Ruins, the site of a neolithic stone city in the northern province of Shaanxi

The skulls were found in what appears to have been a mass grave at the Shimao Ruins, the site of a neolithic stone city in the northern province of Shaanxi.

The women's bodies were not present, the official news agency Xinhua said, adding that archaeologists concluded that the skulls were "likely to be related to the construction of the city wall" in "ancient religious activities or foundation ceremonies" before construction began.

There may have been an outbreak of mass violence or ethnic conflict in the region at the time since "ancient people were prone to use their enemies or captives as sacrifices", it added.

The discovery is not the first instance of researchers unearthing remains related to human sacrifice in early China. Kings and emperors were regularly buried along with their servants and concubines, who were sometimes killed first -- and on other occasions buried alive. 

The Shimao Ruins cover more than four square kilometres and were discovered in 1976.

The total includes 40 skulls that the Shaanxi provincial government said earlier had been discovered at the site last year.

Sun Zhouyong, deputy head of the Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology, told state broadcaster CCTV that the initial batch "show signs of being hit and burned".

"This collective burial might also have something to do with the founding ceremony of the city," he said.

Archaeologists have also found more than 100 remains of murals as well as large amounts of jadeware at the site of the ancient city, which sits in the Yellow River basin and is believed to date back to 2000 BC.

In 2005 archaeologists at Hongjiang in the central province of Hunan found an altar devoted to human sacrifice as well as the skeleton of one victim. 

A separate altar was used for sacrificing animals at the 7,000-year-old site, which is believed to be the earliest human sacrificial site ever found in the country. 

Latest Photo Galleries on xinmsn

NEWS VIDEOS

MORE NEWS VIDEOS

facebook recommendations

LIVE NEWS RADIO STREAMING

  • 938 Live

    938LIVE is Singapore's only English news and talk station which transmits round the clock with an engaging and enticing spread of programmes on current affairs, health, business and lifestyle as well as news every half hour until midnight.

  • Capital 958


    95.8FM城市频道的前身是"第三广播网"。上个世纪30年代末,新加坡就有中文广播,一路走来经过不少政治,社会局势的改变,中文广播在本地一直扮演举足轻重的角色。