Jade cross discovered in Nestorian relics site in China's Xinjiang

(Xinhua) 11:04, March 22, 2024

URUMQI, March 21 (Xinhua) -- After two years of excavation, a batch of important cultural relics -- including a well-preserved jade cross -- was unearthed at the relics site of a Nestorian monastery in Turpan, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Nestorianism, or Jingjiao in Chinese, was the earliest form of Christianity introduced to China. Covering an area of about 2,500 square meters, the monastery is a relatively well-preserved structure that comprises the ritual halls and auxiliary buildings such as kitchens, wine cellars, libraries, and storage rooms.

"Jade represents traditional Chinese culture. The discovery of a jade cross fully demonstrates that Nestorianism integrated with local culture after its introduction to this region and showed signs of sinicization," said Liu Wensuo, a professor of the Sun Yat-sen University, who is in charge of the excavation project.

In the early 20th century, the relics site was first recorded in the reports documented by the German explorers. In the early years of the 21st century, based on the German archives, archaeologists in Turpan confirmed the location of the site at the southern foot of the Flaming Mountain.

From September to December 2021, Sun Yat-sen University, in partnership with the Xinjiang institute of cultural relics and archaeology and the Xinjiang academy of Turfan studies, conducted the first archaeological excavation at the site. The second excavation was conducted from February to April 2023.

Liu said that the monastery, which dates back to the Tang and Song dynasties, is a rare Nestorian site in China as well as the world, with significant scientific and cultural value. At present, archaeologists have unearthed 871 documents from the site.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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