(Dongxi question) Huo Wei: Sanxingdui is "new" again. How did the ancient bronze civilizations of the East and the West have a "space" dialogue?

  China News Agency, Chengdu, April 21, Question: Huo Wei: Sanxingdui is "new" again, how did the ancient bronze civilizations of the East and the West have a "space" dialogue?

  China News Agency reporter Yue Yitong He Shaoqing

  The top ten new archaeological discoveries in the country in 2021 were recently announced, and archaeological projects including the Sanxingdui site were selected.

In the 6 sacrificial pits newly discovered in Sanxingdui, a total of more than 2,000 pieces of gold, bronze, jade, and pottery were unearthed. Important cultural relics include gold masks, bird-shaped foil ornaments, bronze-topped statues of kneeling figures, and figures of kneeling figures with their heads turned around. etc., not only enriched the cultural connotation of the Sanxingdui site, but also aroused people's thinking about the origin of Sanxingdui civilization and its relationship with extraterritorial civilizations.

  How to compare the similarities and differences between the Sanxingdui civilization and the ancient civilizations of the world?

How did the ancient bronze civilizations of the East and the West have a "space" dialogue?

Huo Wei, an outstanding professor of Sichuan University, director of the Sichuan University Museum, dean of the School of History and Culture, and director of the Chinese Archaeological Society, recently accepted an exclusive interview with China News Agency "East and West Questions" to make an in-depth analysis of this.

The following is a summary of the interview transcript:

China News Service reporter: What progress has been made in the archaeological excavation of the six newly discovered sacrificial pits in Sanxingdui?

Huo Wei:

At present, the excavation of No. 3, 4, 5, and 6 sacrificial pits at the Sanxingdui site has basically been completed and has entered the stage of indoor finishing; the excavation of No. 7 and 8 sacrificial pits is expected to end in the second half of this year.

  Among the artifacts unearthed from the six sacrificial pits, the top bronze statue related to the sacrificial sacrifice is particularly worthy of attention.

In the past, archaeologists have found a small statue of a kneeling figure in the sacrifice pit No. 2, but the shape is small and simple.

In the new round of archaeological excavations, there is a "strange" top bronze vessel with a large shape, a square pedestal and complicated patterns.

The reason why it is called "weird" is that when it was unearthed, there were other human body parts above the pedestal, and the shape was peculiar.

  This bronze ware is being restored in the laboratory. Although it has not been fully restored, it can be seen that it consists of three parts, including the statue on top of the statue, the statue itself and the pedestal.

The four corners of the bronze pedestal have kneeling figures, and there are bronze figures carrying objects on their shoulders. They are probably priests who undertake sacrificial activities. They use the statue as an important sacrificial utensil and carry out sacrificial activities in a specific place - the altar.

There is no doubt that this utensil is a national treasure-level cultural relic, and it is likely to record the scene of ancient Shu ancestors offering sacrifices to the gods.

  In the ancient bronze culture in the world, no artifacts have been found that are completely similar to those unearthed from the Sanxingdui site.

However, it is impossible to fully display the myths, legends and aesthetic interests of ancient Chinese ancestors only by relying on the bronzes unearthed in the Central Plains.

The discovery of the Sanxingdui site has greatly expanded the cultural landscape of China's Bronze Age, showing that the ancient Chinese ancestors not only created a group of bronze objects that represent social hierarchy and symbolize state power, but also have rich imagination and observation of the world. His delicate vision and broad vision refuted the cognition of some scholars in the past that the Chinese nation lacked imagination, lacked artistic creativity and exaggerated and enriched the imagination of mythology.

Excavation cabin.

Photo courtesy of Sichuan Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology

China News Service reporter: Why should we compare the similarities and differences between the Sanxingdui civilization and the ancient civilizations of the world from a larger time and space scale?

Huo Wei:

Chinese civilization originated and developed independently, but this does not affect the comparative study of ancient civilizations in China and the world, so as to carry out dialogue between different civilizations.

Observing Sanxingdui from the perspective of the ancient civilizations of the world, you will find some similar cultural phenomena that transcend the level of specific archaeological artifacts and can rise to the level of spiritual world, artistic concept and expression.

  The excavation of the Sanxingdui site has brought many questions to the academic community, the most important of which is how to answer the ins and outs of Sanxingdui.

Archaeology usually compares unearthed things with known things to determine their age, nature, function, distribution area, etc.

At present, a considerable part of the artifacts unearthed from the Sanxingdui site have no reference objects, so it is necessary to find a reference system in a larger time and space range.

At the same time, one should observe and analyze the concepts, spiritual worship, and aesthetic interests behind the objects.

  From the perspective of mythological system, ancient Chinese mythology and foreign ancient mythology have differences and commonalities.

For example, both at home and abroad have vividly interpreted elements such as the sun, moon, stars, and gods who dominate the human world.

In the past, such problems were mostly reflected in the mythological records of the texts, but the various artifacts unearthed in Sanxingdui reproduce the lost mythical world in real form, providing more clues for comparison.

  For example, bronze statues, masks, and heads constitute a group of bronze statues with the characteristics of "Idol worship" as a whole, which is one of the distinctive features of the Sanxingdui bronze civilization.

Throughout the Sumerian, Akkadian, Babylonian and Assyrian civilizations that rose from 3000 B.C. The idols reflect the inner worship of theocracy and kingship from an artistic point of view, forming a systematic phenomenon of "idol worship".

This tradition had a huge impact on the later Western Greek and Roman classicism art.

Humans' collective perception, aesthetic value and life philosophy of worship of natural gods, theocracy and kingship in the world are expressed in various aspects through the art of portraiture.

Thunderstorm (master of Sanxingdui Archaeological Workstation)

  In addition, the ancient ancestors believed that there was a tree in the center of the earth where they lived, which could go straight to the heaven and have a relationship with the sun. Such trees are often called "sun trees" or "cosmic trees".

After research, the bronze sacred tree found at the Sanxingdui site is indeed related to the worship of the sun.

  Although there are many similar factors between the Sanxingdui civilization and the ancient civilizations of the world, this does not mean that who spread it to whom, but on the basis of the same level of productivity and spiritual development, ancestors around the world can independently create some similar Cultural phenomenon, artistic representation of the connection between man and nature.

  The main purpose of such comparison is to understand the similar thinking and material creation of the human spiritual world in ancient times, which is also the basic position and method of observing and studying Sanxingdui.

Bronze restoration.

Thunderstorm (master of Sanxingdui Archaeological Workstation)

China News Service reporter: What are the similarities between Sanxingdui and other ancient civilizations, what characteristics of ancient civilizations in the world show?

What are the implications for the development of human civilization?

Huo Wei:

The artifacts unearthed in Sanxingdui prove that there can be dialogue between Chinese ancestors and ancient civilizations in the world.

The unique expression of Sanxingdui can be compared with other ancient civilizations in the world, such as Egyptian civilization, Mesopotamia civilization, and even its neighbors, ancient India, but the expressions are different, but the concerns reflect the ideological realm of human beings at that time. , aesthetic concepts and artistic creativity.

It can be said that Sanxingdui made up for a lack of archaeological evidence in the past Chinese Bronze Age.

  There was a point of view that Sanxingdui was a civilization from the West, but I don't agree with that.

Under roughly the same cultural level, ecological environment and social development level, it is not surprising that different civilizations have independently produced some similar cultural phenomena.

For example, the worship of the mysterious big eye, the god tree, and the sun god also exists in other ancient civilizations in the world, and there are similarities and differences in artistic expressions. It is impossible to attribute such archaeological phenomena in Sanxingdui to foreign civilizations.

  Furthermore, even some similar cultural phenomena require more careful observation and analysis.

For example, the golden mask was used as a "cover" after the death of the king in ancient Egypt and ancient Persian civilization. This custom has been circulating in the Eurasian steppe culture for a long time.

However, in Sanxingdui, China, the golden mask is covered on the surface of the bronze figure. Its symbolic meaning and specific function are obviously different and cannot be generalized.

  I think there needs to be a proper way of looking at the world and making people realize that there are commonalities between East and West as well.

The ancient ancestors recognized and reflected the world through spiritual creation activities, and left a precious legacy for today's people, the rise and fall of the sun, the changes of the four seasons, the infinite imagination brought by the universe and the stars... These not only left a deep imprint on the ancestors of the West, but also influence the eastern world.

In this sense, mankind is a community with a shared future.

Bronze in the pit.

Thunderstorm (master of Sanxingdui Archaeological Workstation)

  In any case, Sanxingdui, a world-class archaeological achievement, its greatest value is undoubtedly the first time the world has a fresh understanding of the Chinese Bronze Age: more than 3,000 years ago, just as Eurasia entered the ancient civilization In the stage of prosperity and development, in the ancient and vast land of China in the East, not only a set of bronze ritual vessels with strict regulations and complete systems, represented by the Central Plains Yin and Zhou bronzes, jades, oracle bone inscriptions, etc., were produced, reflecting the social values ​​at that time, Hierarchical order and state power have also produced mysterious, exaggerated, vivid and rich plastic arts, idol traditions and power symbol systems represented by the Sanxingdui civilization in the southwest.

  The above findings not only reshape the appearance of Chinese bronze culture with more extensive and profound content, and change people's previous understanding of the cultural connotation of China's Bronze Age, but also show many compatibility and commonality between Sanxingdui civilization and ancient civilizations in the world. sex, and a wonderful dialogue was launched between the ancient bronze civilizations of the East and the West.


Interviewee Profile:

Photo by China News Agency reporter Wang Lei

  Huo Wei is currently the Dean of the School of History and Culture (Tourism College) of Sichuan University, the Curator of the Museum of Sichuan University, the Director of the China Tibetology Research Institute of Sichuan University, a key research base of Humanities and Social Sciences of the Ministry of Education, etc. He is the convenor of the Archaeology Discipline of the Disciplinary Review Group of the State Council One of the people, a judge of the National Social Science Fund, a member of the Undergraduate Teaching Steering Committee of the Ministry of Education, a director of the Chinese Archaeological Society, the vice president of the Sichuan History Society, and the vice president of the Sichuan Museum Society.