Guge Kingdom Ruins Site in Zanda County, Xizang Autonomous Region Photo: VCG
Over the past decade, increased efforts to protect and restore cultural relics in southwestern China’s Xizang Autonomous Region have been made with strong support from the central government. Older treasures have been excavated and documented, helping to piece together regional and national history and clarifying the close connection that has existed between the central plains and the plateau since antiquity.
In this series on the cultural relics of Xizang, the overall situation of conservation work and its achievements will be presented, while the Potala Palace, one of the symbols of Xizang, will be covered as a typical example of the protection and restoration of cultural relics through high technology.
The discovery of traces of human activity dating back more than 4,000 years, an archaeological survey in the South Asian Silk Road corridor and applications for World Heritage status for historic sites are among the many achievements made in Xizang Autonomous Region in southwest China. over the past decade, officials said Saturday at a press conference outlining the progress the region has made in preserving cultural relics over the past 10 years.
At the press conference, Xizang officials presented the progress of preserving cultural relics in various fields, noting that cultural relics unearthed in the area are strong evidence of the fusion of different ethnic groups.
Zhao Xingbang, deputy head of the Cultural Heritage Administration of Xizang Autonomous Region, said the region has more than 4,000 historical sites and about 510,000 cultural relics.
A total of 277 archaeological excavations have been carried out in the autonomous region, which has made significant progress in uncovering ancient ruin sites and researching the origins of Chinese civilization.
Authorities in the region have also severely suppressed and prevented crimes related to cultural relics, closing 40 cases and recovering 1,974 cultural relics.
During the same period, the central government invested a total of 1.71 billion yuan ($241 million) in 131 projects to protect and maintain cultural relics, a record for financial support.
Xiong Kunxin, a professor at Minzu University of China in Beijing, told the Global Times that these achievements should be turned into a driving force to promote future archaeological work in the region.
Carrying out hundreds of archaeological excavation projects in Xizang, Chinese archaeologists have found several ruin sites, including human settlements, buildings and tombs, dating back to the Paleolithic period.
More than 500 structures, mostly made of stone and earth, such as fire and ash pits, have been discovered at the Qiere site in Gar County in Xizang. Estimates date the excavated relics and various stone tools found at the site to the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods.
The site has provided valuable materials for research into the origin and migration routes of ancient peoples and fills the gap regarding prehistoric culture on the plateau around 8,000 to 10,000 years ago.
The Mabucuo site in Kangmar County is a prehistoric settlement site dating back around 4,000 years. Archaeological evidence of human activities such as hearths, tombs and relics including pottery and ivory products have been discovered there. The findings led many experts to coin the term “Mabucuo Culture”, as the site appears to have harbored a unique lakeside fishing and hunting culture never before seen on the plateau.
The discovery of human activities at Nwya Devu, a high altitude archaeological site, was discussed during the conference. The archaeological team found a large number of stone chips, stone cores, scrapers and other stone products, demonstrating that ancient humans set foot on the high-altitude area of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau 30,000 to 40,000 years ago and left clear and solid imprints on the roof of the world.
Zhao pointed out that progress at Xizang has benefited from the central government’s emphasis on preserving cultural relics and its support in funding, technology and talent.
Thanks to this strong support, Xizang cultural workers have been able to accelerate efforts to digitize Xizang cultural relics and ancient books, as well as establish a database of cultural resources.
“The central government supports Xizang in its efforts to conserve its rich cultural resources. Besides local educational institutions such as university research centers, civil organizations and cultural institutions such as museums should also work to promote archaeological work in the region,” Xiong noted.
He also noted that it is important to present these archaeological achievements to the public. Public cultural spaces such as museums can help the public “inherit” the history and culture of Xizang.
“A large amount of relics show that Xizang is forever part of China. We should let people see them,” Xiong remarked.