Archaeologists excavated the Jiren Taigoukou Ruins in Qialege’e village located in Ili Valley of north-western China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, revealed a Bronze Age settlement dating back 3500 years.
The archaeologists of Xinjiang Institute of Archaeology state that they have found evidence of coal being burned on the ancient site. These new claims may suggest that humans were using coal about 1000 years earlier than previously thought. Other finds from the site include Bronze Age pottery vessels, metal tools such as a copper blade and stone tools used by the ancient people.
Remains of 14 houses have been found at the site, and over 2000 square meters have been excavated. These houses were used for different functions, such as for living, gathering or production. Among other finds was a skeleton burial of a possibly male individual. The pit of the burial is surrounded with large stone slabs and the buried individual was laid on its left side with both hands by the face.
A great deal of coal ash, coal particles and unburned sheets of coal, as well as a kitchen and ashcan used by ancient people for cooking and warmth, were found at the site. According to the historical records, coal was widely used in industrial production and for everyday use during the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 24 AD).
However, the oldest traces of coal use in China date back to the Neolithic Age, 6000-7000 years ago, as coal and carbon crystals were occasionally used as jewellery at that time.
(after People’s Daily Online, China Daily & The Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences)