Archaeologists unearthed remains of a 3000-years-old structure believed to serve as a Bronze Age sun altar, in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, North-west China.
The circular structure measures 100 metres in diameter. Although being discovered in 1993 it was excavated only recently. It is composed of three circled layers of stone. The scientists believe that the builders dragged the stones from miles away using men and horses. The altar was similar to the heaven worshipping altars built by the dynasties that once ruled China’s central plains but it is the first of its kind discovered in the Xinjiang region. Sun worshipping has been practised by the Chinese throughout history, with sun deities playing a central role in Chinese mythology. According to the researchers the new discoveries prove that the people of the central plain culture had already long reached the foot of Mount Tianshan, in the Bayanbulak Grassland, the choke point of the Silk Road. The discovery reveals that a link between the remote grasslands of the west and other parts of the country were stronger than believed, before the establishment of the Silk Road in the 2nd century BC.