China cultural, archaeological news in brief

17:20, February 14, 2011      

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The following are China's cultural and archaeological news items in brief:

BEIJING OPENS "EMPEROR WOOD" FURNITURE MUSEUM

China's first museum to showcase furniture and artworks made of the rare and expensive Phoebe sheareri, also known as "emperor wood" in ancient China, has now opened its doors to the public in Beijing, the museum's curator said Monday.

Pheobe sheareri is a rare tree native to the southern Chinese provinces of Sichuan, Guizhou, Hubei and Hunan. The wood is highly resistant to decay and has a faint but pleasant fragrance, said Ma Zhiyong, curator of the museum.

Dubbed "emperor wood," it was the main material used to build palaces,royal temples as well as furniture in ancient China, especially in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), during which only the royal family could use it, according to Zhou Jingnan, a researcher with the Palace Museum.

The museum, covering more than 2,000 square meters, displays over 300 pieces of luxurious Phoebe sheareri furniture and crafts, six pieces of which are worth more than 100 million yuan (about 15.2 million U.S. dollars) each, said Ma.

Visitors will have to make a reservation in advance as the museum can only receive a limited amount of visitors each day, he added.

SCIENTISTS UNEARTH 600 MILLION-YEAR-OLD PLANT FOSSILS

Paleontologists in east China's Anhui Province have unearthed thousands of pieces of plant fossils which could date back to the Sinian Period about 600 million years ago, a spokesman with the government information office of Xiuning County, where the fossils were found, said Monday.

The plants lived in the warm shallow sea that used to cover Xiuning hundreds of millions of years ago, said Yuan Xunlai, a paleontologist with the Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which was in charge of the excavation.

According to the spokesman, the county will apply to build a national geopark to protect the fossils and offer tourists a chance to learn about the plants that lived hundreds of millions of years before dinosaurs.

ANCIENT HANDICRAFT WORKSHOP CLUSTER DISCOVERED IN N.W. PROVINCE OF SHAANXI

A handcraft workshop cluster dating back to the late Warring States Period (475 BC-221 BC) has been unearthed in northwest China's Shaanxi Province, archaeologists said Monday.

Archaeologists have excavated a large amount of pottery items, porcelain tiles and ruins of kilns since April last year in the 3,000-square-meter Raoshang Site near Meixian County, which they thought was a handcraft workshop district that used to produce construction materials and porcelain articles for daily use for the ancient Meixian County.

According to the archaeologists, the workshops had operated for more than 500 years through the late Eastern Han Dynasty (25 - 220).

Source: Xinhua
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