Expository Essay: “Sanxingdui Culture” – 12 Topic Ideas to Cover

Topics and ideas
Posted on April 25, 2016

The ancient Chinese Sanxingdui culture is one of the mysterious cultures which researchers are still trying the best to learn about till this day. Understanding this fact, your instructor may recommend that you write an expository essay so that you can learn beyond your textbook and find new sources of information on this subject.

Be forewarned: writing expository essays involves meticulous research about your chosen topic. As your essay cannot cover very broad themes, try to focus on a specific aspect instead. This lends your essay a logical flow and internal consistency. Besides, a few threads of ideas running through the text are easier to manage as compared to complex and multi-layered concepts.

If you are assigned an expository essay on Sanxingdui culture, here are 12 facts you can use to come up with a topic for your essay and even use while writing it. If you would rather take a shortcut, check out our 20 expository essay topics on Sanxingdui culture.

Here are the most useful facts about Sanxingdui culture:

  1. The village of Sanxingdui located in the Sichuan province of China was the stage of a major archeological find. In the year 1986, two huge sacrificial pits were unearthed. With this discovery, a lost chapter of Ancient Chinese history was also discovered. The pits were created by an ancient civilization which flourished in the region some 3000 – 5000 years ago.
  2. The Sanxingdui archeological site is located in the city of Guanghan, 40 km away from Chengdu. It has been internationally recognized as one of the most important ancient remains worldwide. The major factors which make it unique are its lengthy period of the reign, vast size and rich cultural contents. The discovery has turned Sichuan into a focal point in the study of ancient China.
  3. The pits were not the first time a major find had been unearthed. The first signs of the presence of an ancient civilization were discovered in 1929. A farmer digging in the area accidentally discovered a huge collection of well-preserved jade relics. Lots of Chinese archeologists tried to find more remains after the discovery, but nothing turned up. After decades of failure, two large pits were discovered in 1986, containing a large amount of artifacts, all of which had been broken, burned and then buried.
  4. The objects found in the pits were remarkable and showed that people had advanced technical and artistic skills. Archeologists found sculptures which had animal faces. Masks with open mouths, grinning teeth, and dragon ears were also found. Moreover, sculptures of snakes, dragons and different birds, a huge wand, a large sacrificial altar, a bronze tree 4 meters in length, rings, axes, and knives among hundreds of small objects were excavated. Of these objects, the most impressive one is probably the 2.62-meter tall bronze humanoid statue.
  5. Carbon dating of the artifacts shows that they belong to the time period between 12th – 11th centuries BC. The bronze statues were made using an advanced casting technique which involved mixing lead, copper and tin to create an alloy of superior strength and malleability. This enabled the people of that area to create statues of stunning length.
  6. The artistic style of all the artifacts found is quite unique. No other ancient Chinese culture is known to possess a similar style.
  7. Archeologists have linked the Sanxingdui culture with the ancient kingdom of Shu. They have also linked the artifacts to early legendary kings. However, the references to the Shu period are not very accurate because historical records for this period are scant.
  8. Sanxingdui at its prime was a metropolis; it covered an area of three square kilometers. Its people had a highly developed agricultural system and were capable of making wine and creating ceramics. The making of sacrificial tools and mining were common trades as well.
  9. Archaeological findings from the excavation sites show that the settlement at Sanxingdui was suddenly abandoned sometime around 1000 BC. The culture was at the peak of its development, which is why this unexplained end is a mystery which has not been solved yet.
  10. Archeologists and historians believe that these pits served as sacrificial sites. The ancient Shu people sought to appease to the earth, heaven, mountains, rivers and other gods by offering sacrifices to them. In fact, the artifacts found there, such as the human-like bronze statues and masks with animal-like faces, were representations of the gods worshipped by these people.
  11. Till this date, not much is known about the lives of the people of this ancient culture. The site does not contain any inscriptions. This Bronze Age civilization has gone unrecorded in ancient texts and, by all estimates, remained relatively unknown to the world. The discovery of the site created a fundamental shift in the way historians thought about Ancient China. Traditional views held that there was a single center of civilization in northern China, but Sanxingdui proved that multiple regional centers existed.
  12. The Sanxingdui culture most likely worshipped the sun and also their ancestors. There have been signs which point to the likelihood that ancestral and religious temples existed simultaneously. This leads historians to conclude that power was shared between the priest and the king. The Sanxingdui civilization is significantly different from the Xia-Shang Zhou civilization, and therefore enriches the pluralistic characteristic of Ancient Chinese civilizations.

These facts can be used in your expository essay to illustrate the uniqueness of the archeological site and the Sanxingdui culture. If you need more information, you can check out the sources listed at the end of this page and learn more about this fascinating culture. If you need more help with the technicalities of writing an expository essay, check our guide on how to write an expository essay on Sanxingdui culture.

Holloway, A. (2014). The Ancient Artefacts of Sanxingdui That Have Rewritten Chinese History. Epoch Times. Retrieved from http://printarchive.epochtimes.com/a1/en/sg/nnn/2014/09%20September%202014/495/SEPTEMBER19-OCTOBER2_18_lowres.pdf
DONG, R. W., & DONG, J. (2008). On Outstanding Eyes of Bronze Statuaries in Sanxingdui Relic. Journal of Chengdu University of Technology (Social Sciences), 2, 006.
CHEN, C., & YIN, M. (2005). Symbolic Research of the Bronze Trees from Sanxingdui [J]. Sichuan Cultural Relics, 6, 006.
Ge, Y., & Linduff, K. (1990). Sanxingdui: a new Bronze Age site in southwest China. Antiquity, 64(244), 505-513. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/s0003598x00078406
Xing-shi, L. I. U. (2005). Sanxingdui Civilization and Ancient Geographic Environment [J]. Journal of Changdu University of Technology Social, 1, 000.
Xu, J. (2003). Defining the Archaeological Cultures at the Sanxingdui Site. Journal Of East Asian Archaeology, 5(1), 149-190. http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/156852303776173006
Hui, W. (2007). The Character of Sanxingdui Bronze Head Picture and the Origin of the Chu History Book TAOWU [J]. Journal of Historiography, 4, 007.

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