Geologist Speculates on Disappearance of Sanxingdui

News December 24, 2014

(Wikimedia Commons)
China-Sanxingdui-Mask
(Wikimedia Commons)

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA—Niannian Fan, a river sciences researcher at Tsinghua University in Chengdu, China, presented new thoughts on the disappearance of the Sanxingdui culture from a walled city on the banks of China’s Minjiang River some 3,000 years ago, at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union. “The current explanations for why it disappeared are war and flood, but both are not very convincing,” Fan told Live Science. In the 1980s, scientists found two pits of broken Bronze Age jades, elephant tusks, and bronze sculptures. Similar artifacts have been found nearby at another ancient city known as Jinsha. Did the people of Sanxingdui relocate to Jinsha? Fan thinks that the epicenter of an earthquake recorded to have occurred in 1099 B.C. some 250 miles away may have actually been close to Sanxingdui. Geological clues in the mountains suggest that a major earthquake triggered a landslide that dammed the river, reduced the water to Sanxingdui, and rerouted its flow to Jinsha. Later documents tell of floods that support the idea that the flow was rerouted. To read about efforts to save China's sites from looters, see "The Tomb Raider Chronicles."

MORE TO DISCOVER

Letter from Nigeria

July/August 2024

A West African Kingdom's Roots

Excavations in Benin City reveal a renowned realm’s deep history

Artifacts July/August 2024

Etruscan Oil Lamp

Read Article
Etruscan Hanging Oil Lamp
(Courtesy Museo dell’Accademia Etrusca e della Città di Cortona; © DeA Picture Library/Art Resource, NY)

Around the World July/August 2024

TONGA

Read Article
(Phillip Parton/ANU)

Digs & Discoveries July/August 2024

Bronze Age Beads Go Abroad

Read Article

Features July/August 2024

The Assyrian Renaissance

Archaeologists return to Nineveh in northern Iraq, one of the ancient world’s grandest imperial capitals

Read Article
(Land of Nineveh Archaeological Project)