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East-West exchanges began 5,000 years ago: Experts

East-West exchanges began 5,000 years ago: Experts

Author: Press Trust of India
Publication: The Hindustan Times
Date: December 18, 2002
URL: http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_122252,0005.htm

Contact between the East and West probably began more than 5,000 years ago - 3,000 years earlier than previously thought, according to Chinese archaeologists.

New research on relics unearthed along the famous silk road, an ancient commercial route linking China and Central Asia, has lead to the conclusion, Xinhua news agency reported on Wednesday.

Li Shuicheng, a professor of archaeology at Beijing University, said many people held that east-west exchanges started after the opening of the silk road over 2,000 years ago, but recent archaeological discoveries showed the date was much earlier.

Li said that a dozen mace heads dating back between 3,000 and 5,000 years, extremely similar to those used by kings of ancient Egypt, had been excavated in northwest China.

The oldest of the mace heads found in Gansu, Shaanxi and Xinjiang in northwest China date back 5,500 years, Li said.

"Many experts share the view that the mace heads were not a product of ancient Chinese civilisation, but were transported from the west," said Li.

Most mace heads unearthed in northwest China are made of stone, jade or bronze, and are in the shape of balls, peaches and pentagrams. Some of them even carry coloured drawings.

Their shapes and functions were surprisingly similar to those of ancient Egypt, Li told an international symposium on the silk road sponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, held in Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi province.

Professor Victor H Mair, of the University of Pennsylvania, US praised Li's view as "brave," "just" and "objective."

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