Chinese archaeologists are calling the bronze ware unearthed in a Shanxi Province village "a major archaeological discovery in the 21st century."
"I was shocked when I saw these relics," said Li Boqian, director of the Archaeological Department of Beijing University, at Wednesday's seminar in Xi'an, the provincial capital of Shanxi,to discuss the importance and value of the excavation of the 27 bronze pieces.
On Jan. 19, residents of Yangjia Village presented the relics they had stumbled upon. The findings have been placed in the museum for cultural relics in Baoji, a city 200 km to the west of Xi'an.
Preliminary research showed the bronze pieces belonged to a family with the surname of "Shan" believed to have lived during the reign of King Zhouxuan in the Western Zhou Dynasty (1100-771 BC). All the pieces bear ancient Chinese characters.
The inscriptions relate the history of the 12 kings who ruled the Western Zhou Dynasty, Li said.
According to Liu Huaijun, an archaeologist in Shanxi, a large number of Western Zhou bronze pieces have been unearthed in three large-scale excavations near the site of Jan. 19 discovery.
Li Xueqin, director of the Institute of History of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told Xinhua that the value of an archaeological discovery is determined by its archaeological and historical usefulness.
Both Li Xueqin and Li Boqian are members of a government team which conducts research on the Xia, Shang and Zhou dynasties (11thcentury-256 BC).