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2000 year old ancient calendar based on Astronomy Discovered in Southwest China

Archaeological Discovery in China

Researchers in the Wulong district of Chongqing Municipality in Southwest Chinahave discovered a set of ancient wooden slips dating back to the Western Han Dynasty (206BC-AD25), said a report by Global Times.

The collection, consisting of 23 well-preserved wooden slips known as mudu, provides insight into the celestial knowledge of ancient China.  Adorned with characters, they focus on the Tiangan Dizhi, an intricate astronomical calendar system from the Shang Dynasty.

Historical Significance

These artifacts are the first of yheir kind discovered in China, shedding light on the early documentation of celestial knowledge in the region. Archaeolist Wang Meng emphasized their importance as crucial early Chinese documents.

Unique Astronomical Calendar System

The Tiangan Dizhi employed “Ten Heavenly Stems, and “Twelve Earthly Branches”

To represent ordinals, dividing the day into twelve two -hour periods. The slips, alongside bamboo slips or jiandu, served as precursors to later forms of Chinese writing.

Tomb’s Remarkable Contents

The slips were found in the Guanku No.1 Western Han Tomb, dated to 193BC based on inscriptions. This tomb is recognized as one of the best-preservrd wooden-chambered tombs discovered in Southwest China to date.

Connection to Tomb Occupant

Associate researcher Huang Wei Noted the exceptional state of the celestial calendar and its potential connection to the tomb’s occupant. Sichuan archaeologist Yu Pei’er speculated that the astronomical content may reveal insights into tomb owner’s profession or beliefs.

Rich Archaeological Discoveries

In addition to the wooden slips, over 600 artifacts, including lacquerware, wood and bamboo wares, and bronze items, were excavated from the tomb. Well-preserved ancient accessories such as earings and lacquer plates add further richness to this significant archaeological finding.

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