A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America
Gold Mask Found in Shang Dynasty Tomb in Central China
Friday, September 23, 2022
ZHENGZHOU, CHINA—A 3,000-year-old gold funeral mask has been recovered from a Shang Dynasty noble’s tomb in central China, according to a Live Science report. Huang Fucheng of the Zhengzhou Municipal Institute of Cultural Heritage and Archaeology said the mask measures about seven inches long and almost six inches wide, making it big enough to have covered an adult’s face. More than 200 artifacts, including ornate daggers, axes, wine vessels, smoking pipes, and goblets made of bronze and jade were also recovered from the tomb, which covers more than 108,000 square feet. Gold objects are rare at Shang Dynasty sites, and may indicate a link to another early Chinese state where gold was more common. “Where does the raw gold come from?” asked Chen Lüsheng of the National Museum of China. “Why did the tomb occupant choose to be buried with gold, while other top elites chose only bronzes and jades?” Gold has been found in small amounts in the region, he added, but it may have been imported as an exotic metal from the Yangtze River Valley to the south. To read about 2,000-year-old bronze mirrors found at a cemetery in Xi'an, China, go to "Mirror, Mirror."
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