Sanxingdui Artefacts in China

The Mysterious Ancient Artifacts of Sanxingdui that have Rewritten Chinese History

(Read the article on one page)

Amid the once-tranquil village of Sanxingdui, in a quiet part of Sichuan province in China, a remarkable discovery took place which immediately attracted international attention and has since rewritten the history of Chinese civilisation. Two giant sacrificial pits were unearthed containing thousands of gold, bronze, jade, ivory and pottery artifacts that were so unusual and unlike anything ever found in China before, that archaeologists realised they had just opened the door to an ancient culture dating back between 3,000 and 5,000 years.

In the spring of 1929, a farmer was digging a well when he discovered a large stash of jade relics. This was the first clue that eventually led to the discovery of a mysterious ancient kingdom. Generations of Chinese archaeologists searched the area without success until 1986, when workers accidentally found the pits containing thousands of artifacts that had been broken, burned, and then carefully buried.

The discovery of the artifacts opened up a world of intrigue. The objects found in the sacrificial pits included animal-faced sculptures and masks with dragon ears, open mouths and grinning teeth; human-like heads with gold foil masks; decorative animals including dragons, snakes, and birds; a giant wand, a sacrificial altar, a 4-metre tall bronze tree; axes, tablets, rings, knives, and hundreds of other unique items. Among the collection was also the world’s largest and best preserved bronze upright human figure, measuring 2.62 metres (8 feet).

A sacrificial altar with several four-legged animals

A sacrificial altar with several four-legged animals at the base to support a few bronze figures closely resembling the large face masks, each holding in outstretched hands a ceremonial offering of some sort. Photo source: Wikipedia

However, by far the most striking findings were dozens of large bronze masks and heads represented with angular human features, exaggerated almond-shaped eyes, straight noses, square faces, and huge ears, features which don’t reflect those of Asian people.

The artifacts were radiocarbon dated to the 12 th-11th centuries BC. They had been created using remarkably advanced bronze casting technology, which was acquired by adding lead to a combination of copper and tin, creating a stronger substance that could create substantially larger and heavier objects, such as the life-size human statue and the 4-metre tall tree.

Bronze Heads and gold foil masks in Sanxingdui - China

Dozens of bronze heads were found in the pits, some containing gold foil masks

Some of the masks were enormous in size – one measures an incredible 1.32 metres in width and 0.72 metres in height, the largest bronze mask ever found. The three largest masks have the most supernatural features of all the Sanxingdui artifacts, with animal-like ears, monstrously protruding pupils, or an additional ornate trunk.

Researchers were astonished to find an artistic style that was completely unknown in the history of Chinese art, whose baseline had been the history and artifacts of the Yellow River civilisation(s).

Bronze Dragon Head in Sanxingdui China

A bird or dragon-like bronze head. Photo source .

The spectacular discovery at Sanxingdui in 1986 turned Sichuan into a focal point in the study of ancient China.  The ancient artifacts found in the two pits date to the time of the Shang dynasty, in the late second millennium BC, when the primary civilised society was flourishing in the Yellow River valley, in north China, thousands of miles from Sichuan. No similar find has been made anywhere else, and there are no inscriptions at the Sanxingdui site to shed light on its culture, which was apparently a distinctive Bronze Age civilisation, unrecorded in historical texts and previously unknown. The discovery contributed to a fundamental shift from the traditional understanding of a single centre of civilisation in north China to the recognition of the existence of multiple regional traditions, of which Sichuan was clearly one of the most distinct.

The culture that produced these artifacts is now known as the Sanxingdui Culture, and archaeologists are identifying it with the ancient kingdom of Shu, linking the artifacts found at the site to its early legendary kings. References to a Shu kingdom that can be reliably dated to such an early period in Chinese historical records are scant (it is mentioned in Shiji and Shujing as an ally of the Zhou who defeated the Shang), but accounts of the legendary kings of Shu may be found in local annals.

According to the Chronicles of Huayang compiled in the Jin Dynasty (265–420 AD), the Shu kingdom was founded by Cancong.  Cancong was described as having protruding eyes, a feature that is found in the figures of Sanxingdui. Other rulers mentioned in Chronicles of Huayang include Boguan, Yufu, and Duyu. Many of the objects are fish and bird-shaped, and these have been suggested to be totems of Boguan and Yufu (the name Yufu actually means fish cormorant).


Some of the art work, such as the Bird or Dragon like bronze head reminds me of the US Northwest Native artwork.

I'd say more Aboriginy than American-Indian. The whole set up with the spirals and the broad nasal features suggest more that region to me than the american indians.
(not saying im right, just giving my 2 cents ^^)

Totally agree with you. I made a comment a while back on a post about Chinese history that the Sanxingdui art seems almost as if you could put that Bird carving next to a Pacific Northwest Coast carving and ask people to guess which piece comes from where and which era. It would be really interesting to see what the results would be from students or just a public group of some sort. Either way though, the style is beautiful and the curves are luscious and make the art really sophisticated. I love the Sanxingdui images.

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest. We have Coast Salish art everywhere in Western WA State, but the Chinese art didn't remind me of of it at all. My impression was that these finds were from a sort of Chinese Art Deco period.

Thanks for article. With photos.

First photo, top of page, it gave me a feeling of looking at something South American. Liked to have seen what the earrings for those ears would have looked like.

That head shape on the three that what would be termed "Cro-Magnon"?

angieblackmon's picture

The one that really makes me curious is the one with the protruding eyes. It kinda makes me think of a cartoon character in a way. In my head I can't really figure out what the reason would be for depicting a person in this manner. It's so strangely curious!

love, light and blessings


I just can not get over those images either. At first, I thought representing serpent eyes. But then I realized: a chariot-driver needs goggles.

I think this represents a visit from a foreign king to China. From Puru Dynasty India. The timeframe is close. I think it is King Yayati, maybe coming to China to marry a princess.

I think this symbolizes "SanJaya" (Sanskrit: san= "appointed to that position" Jaya) , the "chariot-driver" of Vjasa, an aspect of Vishnu. (Drives the sun across the sky). And historically, I think that makes him Yuya, the Vizier ("appointed to that position" Yuya) of Thutmose IV and Amenhotep III.

Actually King Yayati of India/ Tushratta of Mittani's brother or nephew. Overlord of Egypt.
The nose, the compressed lip shape:

Why no image of horse if that was meant to represent a Chariot Driver but why was a Chariot Driver, a servant, probably getting more attention than the Indian King in the first place? Does that make sense at all? Any written records from either India or China? :)

Also, any similar artifacts unearthed in India? :)

The work resembles Moche offerings from Peru.

That is because if one looks carefully, one will see that the "Caral" temple in Peru is in the shape of something readily identified in ancient Puru kingdom of India....and their colony of "Meru." aka "Egypt." Something the Vultures are depicted holding in their talons....same vulture you see here.

The name of the docks in Thebes, Egypt: Peru-neft.

You've just received the clue to "finding" Solomon's key.

That bird looks like a vulture, found on images at Gobkli Tepe, Sumeria, Babylon and Egypt.

It's amazing how sometimes archeologists decide that things they've found in digs are what they appear to be or they're fantasy. In this case I can weight in on the protruding eyes and other inhuman features. You're right if you think none of these are "supposed" to be real. But who decided what's real and what's not real? Do any of you ever consider that what you're seeing are depictions of what was actually seen? Did someone of great stature wear those giant masks? Are you saying to yourself right now that it's not remotely possible? Look at the facts and you'll find that skeletons of giant stature have been dug up all over the U.S. The majority used to state implicitly that there could never have been giant animals on the earth. They said that humans weren't alive at the same time as Dinosaurs too. And yet we have spent our lives parroting their beliefs as if they are our own. Point in fact, we've been taught that our beliefs and opinions don't matter but theirs' do. If you don't agree with them that's one thing but make it public and they'll eat you alive. Now, as for stating what the real truth is; I can state that I and 4 other witnesses, on two occasions have seen protruding, see-thru, spiraling, glowing eyes coming out of human eyes. On the second occasion those eyes were protruding from a head of the same that itself was see-thru, and of the same color. It looked like the man who's body it was protruding from and yet, it had features that the physical man did not exhibit. It had slicked back hair and a little goatee on it's chin. When I got really close to it, to peer at it, it turned and looked at me with this shocked look on it's face. Then, it quickly sucked back into the man's head and neck. This same many during my cshowed me how it could appear to be different entities. Sometimes it was completely outside the man's human body. The body lay on the floor against the wall like a deflated balloon. So, in response to these ancient masks, my view of them being a true representation of what was seen by ancient peoples is that this is what they saw.

"This same many during my cshowed me how it could appear to be different entities."

Me too! Bwahahaha, oh boy, here it comes....

"Now, as for stating what the real truth is; I can state that I and 4 other witnesses, on two occasions have seen protruding, see-thru, spiraling, glowing eyes coming out of human eyes. On the second occasion those eyes were protruding from a head of the same that itself was see-thru, and of the same color. It looked like the man who's body it was protruding from and yet, it had features that the physical man did not exhibit. It had slicked back hair and a little goatee on it's chin. When I got really close to it, to peer at it, it turned and looked at me with this shocked look on it's face."

Hahahaha, didn't take much time pulling that out of your axx, didja?

Sorry, didn't mean to run over your Dogma and crush The Narrative under Yuya's chariot wheels. Nice try, but I know EXACTLY your motivation.

"Muddying the waters" a favorite tactic of those wishing desperately to HIDE TRUTHS.

This mystery was easy to solve. The first photo says it all - it's Yoda!

PS. Thank you for the excellently written articles and amazing photos. I just found your site and will be back to continue reading.

They look to me very similar to some Roman and Carthaginan (Carthage, in Tunisia today) art work masks!
Romans have been in China for some time, I can't remember where exactly, but a village in China celebrate every year by wearing Roman warrior costumes

Tsurugi's picture

Are they really "sacrificial" pits? Something seems a bit off about this. Why "sacrifice" masks of their leader...?

Its almost like someone wanted this culture to be forgotten.

As presented, there are currently still insufficient evidences that can lead to any conclusive study. Need to give such research more time. However, I would like to give a try at making my own possible induction. A possible theory could be Double Wipe-outs, involving Genocides and/or Acts of God.

What do I mean? The facial features of the Sanxingdui masks bear striking resemblances to the appearances of people of Caucasian origins, probably from any of the lands stretching all the way from Europe, Mideast, Central Asia to the Indian subcontinent. The protruding eyes might be an exaggerated depiction of bulging eyes, which along with the huge noses and squared faces, are facial features common to the Caucasians. That is likely an indication of some sort of interactions with people of a non-Caucasian origin, ie. the mainstream Chinese from other parts of China. The artifacts, showing exaggerated facial features, are evident of the "Culture Shock" experienced by the mainstream Chinese. Such a characteristic of exaggeration has also been prominent in some Tang Chinese artifacts, produced at a time in ancient Chinese history when cross-cultural interactions with Minor Asia had been prevalent. Their Modern-day equivalents may be the use of slits in Western depictions of the eyes of the Mongoloids.

The intricacy and exquisiteness of the artifacts, which are fine works of art, might indicate that the Sanxingdui people were initially held in high regards by very possibly an adjacent mainstream Chinese tribe who was the only group of mainstream Chinese to have contacts with the Shu people. However, due to conflict of interests that could have resulted from claims of ownership to overlapping territories, relations turned sour and took a dive for the worst, leading to a possible Genocidal battle against the Sanxingdui people. Upon the success of the campaign, all written records of the Shu people were intentionally destroyed to wipe out any hint on their claims of legitimate entitlement to the territories. Either that, or they didn't keep any written record at all. It has to be remembered that the Sanxingdui people were most likely only a relatively small group of migrants into Sichuan, China. Artifacts about them were broken, burnt and buried by their Chinese conquerors, a symbolic ritual that spells their ultimate demise. While this Chinese tribe probably had recordings to mark their victory against the people of the Shu Kingdom, such traces of records were also destroyed in another Genocidal campaign or Act of God against them, in an ironic twist of fate.

Of course, the above may well just be my imagination, in the wildest form! :D

Correction: Not Minor Asia, but the Near East and Central Asia.

A simpler explanation is that acting under the sanction of the Zhou Dynasty, it was a one-off covert campaign to wipe out the Kingdom of Shu. No records were thus left. For what reasons the Zhou wanted to eliminate its former ally, I'm not sure though... :D

A genocide was likely, whether or not the Sanxingdui people were relatively isolated from the rest of China. It was a deliberate move to make them disappear from the face of the Earth, thus any traces that were unique to them had been erased.

Without any doubt, the huge bronze face with spiked eyes (those are not "protruding eyes") once was attached to the prow of an ancient Greek warship. A "Ram."

Absolutely no doubt what that is.

"A large bronze head with protruding eyes believed to depict those of Cancong, the semi-legendary first king of Shu." No. Those are not "protruding eyes." Those are spikes. And it is not a "head" it is a mask of a "god." A Huge one, with mounting holes to attach to ship's prow. Do you not see the holes to mount this RAM????

That my friends, is an image of Yama, the Ugarit god of the ocean and the god of death. "Yufu"=Yuya=Yama=YHW. Look at article at Wikipedia on "YHWH" it states clearly that scholars say "YHWH" is aka "Yama." So do many Jewish scholars. Ugarit....Canaan. Invaded by the Mittai KHaburs of Washukanni/VasuKanni. The Haberu Kanni/Cains. Speaking "Luwian" which is Levite...hence it was renamed "The Levant."

And a close look at Yuya's mummy *clearly* shows someone drove spikes into his forehead, into his eyes. CLEARLY one can see he was blinded. Colorized images of his mummy shows he was a reddish-blond haired Leper. Images of him are easily located in ancient Indo-Aryan artwork as a Leper, with one blinded eye: his right eye. He is even called "The yellow-haired devil/Asura" in the ancient Vedic sanskrit.

I say it is depicted on the "Narmer" (Naram-Simha) Palette, "Narmer" wearing a lion's tale, driving a spike into a Greek sailors' forehead. Then the reverse side shows the line of Greek sailors being marched, and one looks exactly like another of the images: wearing that "eye goggle" mask. Blinded and carrying a Standard: Set. With a shovel slung over his shoulder...never heard of YHWH and the Shovel tale in bible? Go look....

Not to mention that the palette also depicts two Greek sailors swimming away in fear from a curious image: it is the Shavista, the symbol of Shiva. And above all images: The Catfish: VishNu as Matsya.

Everyone here does realize that Greeks had an ancient colony in Fujian province called "Yue?" If you didn't, go look it up. The dates are correct. The Chinese called Yuya "Yufu."

And that huge/tall statue? Yuya as "Tushratta/Dashartha" (the ten avatars of VishNu): He is an alchemist. Yuya/YHW/Yufu had a city he settled, Al-Khemmis, aka "AkMin", in the Minya District of Upper Egypt: fact. Al-Khemmis...Alchemist.

Yuya/Tushratta as king of the Mittani KHaburs forged bronze weapons and agricultural implements at Washukanni/VasuKanni (Cains/blacksmiths) that they TRADED TO THE CHINESE. Mittani is in Assyria. The Mittani worshiped Indo-Aryan/Vedic gods and goddesses.

They were aka the YueZhi/Asii traders of the Silk Road. Aka "TochAryan/ Caucasians. This is all EASILY researched and verified.

And yes, some of those masks I have found images very similar since this discovery, in ancient Indo-Aryan art. Especially telling is the "cat mask" image wearing a goggle mask....that is an Asura.
demon image, easily found. Same elongated neck, with TWO SETS OF EARS like this Chinese ask. Unique and indisputable.

Yuya/Yufu's mummy is next to his wife: "Thuya." A "Thyia" means "Water Nymph" in Greek. HE IS Yudhisthera, the famous BLIND KING of the Mahabharata, aka "Dhritarastera." Judah and Athira.

"God and his Wife."

Stop thinking inside a fake perimeter set by those wishing to deceive. The Turko-Greek tribes traveled this Silk Road often, and they also sailed the Indian Ocean. The other Indo-Aryan tribes called them "Yoni." The IONIANS. Stop thinking the ancients didn't sail the seas everywhere: they did. Stop thinking the ancients didn't travel far and wide: didn't the university of Pennsyvannia just PROVE Egyptian kings rode on HORSEBACK in 1600 BC??? Yes, they did...and I KNOW WHO THAT KING IS.


And "Narmer" is Naram-Simha, an avatar of VishNu. Half-man/half-lion....which is why "Narmer" is wearing a lion's tale in images.

Go look at the Narmer Palette. Don't be afraid to expand your Horizons....You will know I am correct.

This is The Khu: Jula. The Catfish King: Kadphises I. Aka "Kujula Kadphises I, king of Kush at Elephantine, and Kushan king. His "nickname" is Elu or Ili. He is "Qi" the son of Yu the Great. He is Yu's "ya": his son. Yuya.

He is aka "King Yao" of the Hilltribes of Burma...the Pyu" tribes. The state of Illinois is named after him: Little Ili. His Gani, or "mischevious dwarf helpers of Shiva" were the miners, and the "mes" were the smithies. MesGani. Michigan. Go read about the ancient copper mining in Michigan at "greatancestors."

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Myths & Legends

Ancient Race of White Giants Described in Native Legends From Many Tribes
Several Native American tribes have passed down legends of a race of white giants who were wiped out. We’ll take a look at a few such legends, including those among the Choctaw and the Comanches of the United States down to the Manta of Peru.

Ancient Places

On a chilly winter day in 1929, Halil Edhem, the Director of Turkey's National Museum, was hunched over his solitary task of classifying documents. He pulled towards him a map drawn on Roe deer skin. As Halil opened the chart to its full dimensions (two feet by three feet wide or 60 X 90 cm) he was surprised by how much of the New World was depicted on a map which dated from 1513.

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article