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Cache of Ancient Artifacts Provides Stunning New Insight Into the Mysterious Qi Dynasty

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When Zhang Yutai, a 52-year-old shepherd, took shelter in this dry, dusty abandoned cave dwelling in the hills of Dawan province, he had no idea he would stumble upon an Eurth-shattering discovery: the lost treasures and records of the ancient Qi Dynasty's last Emperor. Behind a crumbling wall partition, Mr. Zhang found crumbling silk wrappings containing over 1,000 bamboo books, as well as 300 pieces of statuary, jewelry, coins and other artifacts that made up a portion of the Qi imperial treasury, stashed away in this remote cave dwelling by fleeing retainers after the dynasty's fall in 317 CE.

The Qi Dynasty, or "Painted" Dynasty, has occupied a mysterious place in Huang historiography for centuries. They were a barbarian people of mysterious origins, who swept eastward from the shores of the Chensha lake and conquered the Yellow Empire in 119 CE. Their rule was marked by bloody sacrifices to their gods, and the foreign emperors took many conscripts for their military campaigns in the south. After nearly two centuries of brutal rule, the Qi were toppled by Gang Liuwei, founder of the Ning dynasty. The records of the Qi, which were already few, as they were not as literate as the Huang they ruled over, were lost almost entirely during the rebellion that brought the dynasty down, leaving little clue as to the nature of these mysterious conquerors. The cache uncovered in Dawan is by far the largest group of Qi dynasty artifacts uncovered to date, and researchers hope that these unusual documents and objects will provide more information not only to the origins of the Qi dynasty, but to the governance of this unusual theocratic state.

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The art objects contained in the cave have sparked particular interest, as the bamboo books are yet to be translated or digitized. Scholars have noted the singularly unusual aesthetic sensibilities employed in their construction, totally unknown among other cultures in Northeast Alharu in this time period. However, according to Dr. Pang Feiqin at Yindan University, the artifacts do bear a striking resemblance to Mesothalassan artwork of the 6th century CE. Is it possible that a Mesothalassan group could have migrated all the way to what is now Fulgistan? Or, even more astonishingly, do the Mesothalassan people themselves have their origins in the Paran Desert? Dr. Pang remains skeptical of such a bold claim. "All we know for sure is that the Qi ruling class represented a heretofore totally unknown ethnic and cultural group, and that, seemingly, nearly all traces of this group's artwork and culture have been erased from the area they formerly occupied."

Research on the so-called Zhang Hoard is currently underway both onsite in Dawan Province and in Dr. Pang's laboratory in Yindan. Those among us clamoring for more information about this exciting discovery and the mysterious people who produced it will have to resign ourselves to waiting and watching. For more educational programming that sheds light on our shared past, be sure to tune in to Eyes on History, on BGCTV 8.

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