Discovered at the Sanxingdui archaeological site in Sichuan, the most recent finds include a bronze snake sculpture with a human head, gold masks, a bronze altar and a bronze box containing jade.
Since the 1980s, excavations at the site have unearthed around 13,000 artifacts dating back to the Bronze Age between 4,500 and 3,000 years ago.
Many of these pertain to an alternative “fairy” realm that the people of the time strongly believed in.
“The sculptures are very complex and imaginative, reflecting the fairy world imagined by people at that time, and they demonstrate the diversity and richness of Chinese civilization,” said excavation leader Zhao Hao of Peking University.
Intriguingly, some of the artifacts appear to have been deliberately burned or broken, most likely for ritualistic purposes.
“As with other human societies, ritual breaking and burning is often about a sanctified passage or communion with a world beyond our own,” Asian art expert Jay Xu told Live Science.
“These burials [of artifacts] then, were perhaps an attempt to move this society through crises with guidance or help from another realm.”