The site of Sanxingdui, located in the city of Guanghan, 40 km from Chengdu, Sichuan Province, is recognized as one of the most important ancient remains in the world for its vast size, lengthy period and enriched cultural contents. The Sanxingdui Ruins cover an area of 12 square kilometers. They are believed to be the remains of the Shu Kingdom which suddenly disappeared some 3,000 years ago.
The site of the Sanxingdui Ruins was an ordinary rural area 100 years ago. But a local farmer, Yan Daocheng, unwittingly opened the door to an unknown culture when he unearthed a bright-colored jade object while hollowing out a ditch in 1929.
Then excavation continued ever since.
In 1986, two major sacrificial pits were found. Thousands of natural treasures were unearthed. No.1 sacrificial pit was discovered on 18th July 1986. Lying in the south of Sanxingdui, on the site of the Lanxing Second Brick Factory, over ten jade dagger-axes and jade tablets were exposed by workers, triggering a rush by archaeologists. The unearthed cultural relics numbered over 400 pieces and every one was invaluable. Among the bronze vessels, there are images, bending figures, dragon stick-shaped vessels, dragon-shaped ornaments, tiger-shaped ornaments, plates, covers, dagger-axes etc. The jade ware includes: jade tables, dagger-axes, swords; pottery includes: pointed-base cups, flat basins and utensils bases. There are also a great number of clamshells, over ten ivory pieces and about 3-cubic-meter bits of burned bones. No.2 sacrificial pit was discovered on the evening of the 14th August in 1986. The remaining objects in No.2 pit can be divided into three stories: upper, middle and lower. In the upper story, there were some 60 elephant tusks; the middle story was mainly filled with bronze wares, such as a large standing man, the sculpture of a man's face, sun wheel etc; in the lower story, there were plant ashes, charcoal powder and small bronze wares.
The Sanxingdui finds are exciting, but they remain enigmatic. No texts have been found, nor is there any mention of this culture in the records of other countries. Analysis of lead and other elements in the bronzes indicates sources similar to those of other cultures along the lower reaches of the Yangtze River. At this point, however, the unique culture that produced these artifacts remains a mystery.