2,500 year-old footprints uncovered in Daye, Hubei

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Tonglushan first attracted worldwide attention in 1973 when ancient copper mines were found on the mountain. Archaeologists explored the area until 1985, when work was halted for 26 years. Two years ago, archaeologists recommenced excavation and found many amazing antiques dating back around 4,000 years ago.

2,500 year-old footprints uncovered in Daye, Hubei
2,500 year-old footprints uncovered in Daye, Hubei [Credit: Shanghaiist]

More unexpected to the archaeologists was the recent discovery of thirty-five 2,500-year-old ancient foot prints at the site.

The depth of the footprints is not more than one cm, and experts initially estimated that the footprints dated back to the Zhou period.

On October 19, researchers in the field of forensic technology rushed to the scene with equipment. Never before had they deciphered footprints so ancient. Experts took soil samples inside and outside of the footprint. Together, after analyzing the data on-site, they concluded that “the tracks are real, each one has a unique difference and the form is from ages ago.”

Their report also detailed specific features of the tracks: the largest is 26 cm-long and the shortest is 25 cm-long. The tracks were made by two people, one an estimated 1.72 meters in height and the other around 1.54 meters in height. Both are barefoot impressions.

How did the ancients footprints survive across a span of more than 2500 years? Researcher Chen Shuxiang said “I can’t give you the exact reasons, but we can try to reconstruct in our minds what happened. On a summer day, when the ground was soft, several dozen barefoot-miners took ore and charcoal to the smelting sites. The miners had just left and heavy rains came. The rain mixed with soil formed sort of a downward mudslide, then buried the footprints at the smelting sites and it left a rare historic spectacle.”

The park officially received word from the state administration of cultural heritage that the footprints would stay protected in their original location, but would be built into a unique attraction in the future.

Author: Isabel Quan | Source: Shanghaiist [January 04, 2014]

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