Credit: Bill Perry/Shutterstock.com
By Tia Ghose
An earthquake nearly 3,000 years ago may be the culprit in the mysterious disappearance of one of China’s ancient civilizations, new research suggests.
The massive temblor may have caused catastrophic landslides, damming up the Sanxingdui culture’s main water source and diverting it to a new location.
That, in turn, may have spurred the ancient Chinese culture to move closer to the new river flow, study co-author Niannian Fan, a river sciences researcher at Tsinghua University in Chengdu, China, said Dec. 18 at the 47th annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.
In 1929, a peasant in Sichuan province uncovered jade and stone artifacts while repairing a sewage ditch located about 24 miles (40 kilometers) from Chengdu. But their significance wasn’t understood until 1986, when archaeologists unearthed two pits of Bronze Age treasures, such as jades, about 100 elephant tusks and stunning 8-feet-high (2.4 meters) bronze sculptures that suggest an impressive technical ability that was present nowhere else in the world at the time, said Peter Keller, a geologist and president of the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, California, which is currently hosting an exhibit of some of these treasures.
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