Archaeologists in China have found over 300 graves in a 5,500-year-old cemetery estimated to have more than 2,000 graves in it in the northwest Shaanxi Province, a media report said today. Covering around 90,000 square meters, the cemetery is in the northeast of the Yangguanzhai ruins, which belonged to a late Neolithic group known as the Yangshao that originated from the middle reaches of the Yellow River and is considered a main precursor for the Chinese civilisation. The excavation of the site began in 2015 and so far 339 graves have been found in an area of 3,800 square meters, half of which have been excavated, Yang Liping, who leads the project, said yesterday. Yang said the total number of graves in the densely distributed cemetery is estimated to surpass 2,000.
Most of the grave owners died during middle age, with women outnumbering men, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. In some burial sites, archaeologists have found suspected traces of textile fabrics around human bones, it said. "There are no wooden coffins. The dead may have been wrapped in fabric when they were buried," Yang said. Painted pottery, bone beads, hair clasps made with bones and earrings made with stone or pottery, pigments and tortoise shell have also been found in the graves. Archaeologists are working with researchers from Fudan University to figure out the blood relationship between those in the cemetery through whole genome sequencing, the report said.
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