China unveils top 10 archaeological discoveries of 2023

Writer:   |  Editor: Lin Songtao  |  From:   |  Updated: 2024-03-25

China on Friday released a list of the top 10 archaeological findings of 2023.

The findings span various provincial-level regions, including Shandong, Fujian, Anhui, Hubei, Henan, and Shaanxi. The oldest traces back to the Paleolithic Period.

Guan Qiang, deputy head of the National Cultural Heritage Administration, said the listed projects represent the pinnacle of archaeological achievements from the preceding year.

These archaeological revelations serve as vivid testaments to the enduring legacy and profound civilization of the Chinese nation, said Guan, underlining their role in bolstering national confidence.

Among the top new archaeological discoveries made in 2023, several have clearly demonstrated the development process and intercivilizational exchanges across China's history.

The No. 1 and No. 2 shipwrecks near the northwest continental slope of the South China Sea are both relatively well-preserved, and a large number of relics identified as Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) artifacts were unearthed at the two sites.

The discoveries were not only major breakthroughs for China's deep-sea archaeology, but also significant international archaeological discoveries.

They demonstrate the fact that Chinese people developed, utilized and traveled to and from the South China Sea at the time, and serve as evidence of China's trade and cultural exchanges on the Maritime Silk Road.

Chen Xingcan, director of the Institute of Archaeology under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that the discoveries of these sites have provided an important basis upon which we can understand the formation and development of a unified, multi-ethnic-group country, and they have made an important contribution to our understanding of the communication between China and the West.

Relics at the Mopanshan relics site. File photo

The Mopanshan relics site in east China's Anhui Province is located at a site through which culture was spread and exchanged between the East and the West in ancient times, as well as between the South and the North.

Experts have said that the relics site is typical in the study of the cultural evolution in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River.

In particular, it is useful for scholars studying how prehistoric society became increasingly complex and civilized in the region, and how the Chinese civilization evolved to become pluralistic and integrated in the south of Anhui.

Some of the archaeological discoveries that have been unveiled are of significance to studies of China's water conservancy system, porcelain, and ceremonial rites related to architecture, according to experts.

Take the 2023 discovery of farmland irrigation and water conservancy structural ruins at the Qujialing relics site in central China's Hubei Province as an example. It is believed that the structures were used to combat drought, store water, dispense water for daily use and irrigate farmlands.

That would mean that prehistoric humans shifted their relationship with water resources from passive defense to proactive control and utilization.

The Qujialing relics site dates back between 5,900 and 4,200 years and is a major Neolithic relics site.


The findings span various provincial-level regions, including Shandong, Fujian, Anhui, Hubei, Henan, and Shaanxi. The oldest traces back to the Paleolithic Period.