Archaeologists have discovered hundreds of important objects in tombs from the late Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BC) at the Zhaigou archaeological site in northwest China’s Shaanxi province.
The oracle bones of this period record 70 kingdoms in the north and west. Together, these regional powers formed the backbone of the multi-ethnic Shang political territory. The city of Zhaigou was one of the most important regional political centers of the late Shang. Archaeological research has unearthed large-scale rammed-earth structures, large aristocratic tombs, small cemeteries, and evidence of copper-casting workshops spanning 11 hills on the Loess Plateau. It is the largest and richest monument of the Shang Dynasty in the region.
Nine high-ranking tombs have been excavated. The grave goods include bronze chariots and horse equipment, turquoise inlaid bronze jewelry, turquoise inlaid animal bones, gold earrings, copper arrowheads and axes, and lacquerware. The excavations also unearthed the first Late Shang chariot and a horse burial found on the Loess Plateau. This is the first aristocratic cemetery of the Shang Dynasty in northern Shaanxi Province, which has been excavated and documented through scientific archaeological research.
The settlement, tombs and grave goods are of great importance for studying the political structure and geographic range of the Shang dynasty in the region. The discovery of numerous chariots and horse equipment, jade artifacts, bone artifacts, lacquerware, and tortoise shells that match those found in the ancient city of Yin, the last capital of the Shang Dynasty, indicates that the inhabitants of the Loess Plateau were active in commercial activities. and cultural ties to the people of the Central Plains 350 miles to the east, much closer than previously thought.