China's Oldest Grotto Grave Unearthed in SW China

A Neolithic grotto grave was recently found in Nongshan Mountain of southwestern Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, unveiling the burial secrets of the Luoyue People, ancestors of China's largest ethnic group, the Zhuang.

Situated in the Xianhu town in Wuming county of Nanning city, the grave is older than three other unearthed earlier in the autonomous region, which only date back to the early years of the Qin Dynasty (221 BC-206 BC).

From the 100-sq-m site, archeologists have excavated more than 80 archeological findings, including stone implements, pottery, jade and clam ware, a few skeletons and some fossils of pandas, elephants and rhinoceros.

What's more, a wealth of stone shovels made of fine-grained shale, which is rather delicate and fragile, have been unearthed for the first time.

With the largest shovel measuring 29 by 17 centimeters and the smallest measuring 10 centimeters long and 4.2 centimeters wide, the varying shapes and sizes have provided vital clues to the daily life and production of ancient ethnic Luoyue people.

Noted archeologist Li Zhen, who has taken part in the excavation, said the stone shovels go beyond the average farming tools popular in primitive digging and hoeing work, and function as ritual articles and funerary objects which might have been worshipped or deified as totems.

Of the unearthed pottery ware, there are numerous pots, axes, kettles, bowls and cups. On their surface, rope lines are engravedon most of them, while some have water wave lines and only a few have colored drawings.

Also excavated from the grave were, among others, a few clam ornaments and jade adornments which give expressions to the aesthetic views of the ancient dwellers in Guangxi and their handicraft, Li said.

The grave was first stumbled upon by farmers of Dengji village in Wuming county while doing quarry work on the Mongshan Mountain,which is about 70 kilometers from Nanning city.

With 86 percent of its population, or 516,000, being ethnic Zhuang people, Wuming county abounds in resources for the study of the ethnic Zhuang group.

The previous three sites of grotto graves were excavated in its Liangjiang (Two Rivers) and Luwo towns.

People's Daily Online ---