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The Silk Road used to be a crucial link between China and the rest of the world. A number of new archaeological discoveries have recently been made along this ancient trade route in Qinghai Province in northwest China.
This stone box weighs a staggering 10 tons. The stone tiger sculpted onto its lid is characteristic of sculptures from during the Xin Dynasty some 2,000 years ago. The granite box is also inscribed with text that tells its story.
It’s likely that this was made during the first year of the Xin Dynasty. People believed it could bring blessings on the newly founded dynasty, said Yan Lin, researcher at Archaeological Research Center, Qinghai.
Another major site in Qinghai is Fusi. Archaeologists here was able to identify a square-shaped ancient city complex dating back around 1,500 years.
"The people who built the city were nomads. So they didn't really live in the city, they still lived in tents and moved around. But they were influenced by Han culture and sought to build a capital city as a symbol of their kingdom," Lin said.
Cities like these also had a military function with military garrisons to escort the trading caravans. Protection was required as the trading merchants were often targeted for their valuable goods.
Although they have long since been abandoned, studying these old cities can open a window into China’s rich history.
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