Archaeologists claim that they have discovered a grapevine dating back 2,500 years during the excavation of the Yanghai Tombs in Shanshan County, northwestern Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
"This is the oldest grape object ever discovered in Turpan Prefecture. This discovery will advance the grape cultivation history of the Turpan region," said Zhang Yuzhong, deputy directorof the local archaeological institute.
The grape object, similar to today's grapevine, is 1.15 meters long and is of several sections. Each section is 11 centimeters long and 2.3 centimeters wide.
Located at the basin east to the Tianshan Mountains, Turpan hasa long grape cultivation history because of its unique climate andsoil.
According to historical records, grapes were cultivated in the Turpan basin as early as 2,000 years ago when Zhang Qian was sent on a diplomatic mission by the western Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-24) to the Western Regions which included present-day Xinjiang and parts of Central Asia.
In the Astana Tombs about 1,500 years ago in Turpan Prefecture,a large number of grape objects including branches, seeds and raisins and official documents on grape cultivation administrationof the Northern Liang, a northern regime during the Five Dynasties(907-960) were unearthed.