China’s oldest sculpture artwork among world’s top 10 archaeological discoveries

ZHENGZHOU, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) — A U.S. magazine has chosen China’s oldest known sculpture artwork as one of the Top 10 Discoveries of 2020.

Archaeology, a publication of the Archaeological Institute of America, gave the honor to a 13,500-year-old miniature bird sculpture unearthed at an archaeological site in central China’s Henan Province.

The magazine quoted archaeologist Francesco d’Errico of the University of Bordeaux saying that if a carved object can be perceived as beautiful or recognized as the product of quality craftsmanship, “the person who produced the figurine should be seen as an accomplished artist.”

In June, an international team of archaeologists from China, Canada, France, Israel and Norway unveiled their study on the sculpture, suggesting it is the oldest known work of Chinese sculpture art.

The discovery sets back not only the origin of sculpture in East Asia by more than 8,500 years but also the history of the art form of birds found in China by 8,000 years.

The bird statue, which is 19.2 mm long, 5.1 mm wide and 12.5 mm high, is dark brown on one side and bronze on the other.

Made of a mammalian limb bone, which had been heated and charred before carving, the bird figurine has a stout body shape, short head, round beak and long tail. Instead of carving the bird’s legs, the unknown ancient artist cut a base for the sculpture to stand on.

The magazine votes for the top 10 archaeological discoveries every December. Six archaeological discoveries in China have made the list since 2006.

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