Archaeologists have discovered the remains of an extremely rare settlement thought to date back 3,500 years to the Late Bronze Age on the ancient Silk Road.
Experts found the remnants of five buildings, ceramic pieces as well as animal bones on the site in modern-day western China, reported state media.
The findings will provide valuable information for historians to understand the lifestyle as well as the migration pattern of those living on the vast grassland between Europe and Asia at the time, according to one researcher.
A team of experts recently found traces of the ancient community underneath a group of ancient tombs east of the Ili River Valley in present-day Xinjiang.
The cluster of graves is thought to have belonged to nomadic people and contains around 30 rectangular-shaped, single-chamber tombs.
Researchers believe the tombs date back around 2,000 years to an era equivalent to the Han Dynasty of China (206BC-220AD). That was also when trading activities on the Silk Road started to flourish.
The older, Bronze Age site was located about 50 centimetres (1.64 feet) underneath the burial site.
Experts discovered it by accident after noticing the earth around one of the nomadic tombs was different from that of the others, according to a media outlet affiliated to the local Xinyuan government.
Members of the Xinjiang Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology excavated a large number of fragments of ceramic as well as bones belonging to cows, sheep, horses and antelopes from three and a half millennia ago.
Ruins of two large buildings, measuring nearly 200 square metres (2,150 square feet), and three smaller buildings of around 50 square metres (538 square feet) were found.
There was also evidence of the use of fire and coal.
Ruan Rongqiu, one of the archaeologists who made the discovery, said the Bronze Age site measured about 500 square metres (5,381 square feet) in size.
‘This type of Bronze Age ruins is relatively rare in the area of Ili,’ Mr Ruan told state broadcaster CCTV.
‘Therefore it could provide very important material for the research into the people living on the Eurasian Steppe in the Bronze Age.’
WHAT IS THE SILK ROAD?
The Silk Road was an ancient network of trade routes that runs across the Asian continent, connecting countries as far east as Japan to Europe.
It derives its name from the lucrative trade in silk that occurred across continents from at around 200BC.
The road was once strewn with bustling cities, desert oases and market towns, but little is known about how the roads originally formed.
Archaeologists at the Max Planck Institute and the Russian Academy of Sciences have found people were moving domestic animals such as cattle, sheep, and goat across the high mountain corridors as long as 4,000 years ago.