Carbon dating has recently confirmed the age of a 3,800-year-old red pottery bird statue unearthed in China's Henan province.
The statue, 16 cm long and 7 cm tall, was painted red with cinnabar, which suggests it may have been an item of worship, Xinhua news agency quoted archaeologists as saying.
The item was found in the ruins of Xinzhai city, discovered in 1979 and believed to be founded by Qi, king during the Xia Dynasty, as early as 2050 BC.
Zhao Chunqing, from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the statue indicates totemistic bird worshiping in prehistoric China.
A large number of pottery utensils and stone tools have been discovered in the same pit, as well as an urn decorated with a leaf design and a cone-shaped tripod with pierced decoration.
According to historical documents about the Xia, believed to be China's first dynasty, Qi's son Taikang lost power and was driven out of the city by tribal leader Houyi, who was later defeated by another tribe leader Hanzhuo.
Geng Guangxiang, an archaeologist working on the Xinzhai project, said previous research suggested that both of these tribes worshipped bird totems, therefore, the statue may have come from that period.
He added that Xinzhai continued to serve as the capital during the power struggles until Qi's descendant Shaokang took control of the dynasty.
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