Archaeologists said they have discovered a rare bronze head with two faces dating back more than 3,000 years in a tomb complex in central China's Hubei Province.
The sculpture featuring huge eyes, protruding cheekbones and horns was unearthed from the Yejiashan Graveyard in the city of Suizhou. The graveyard consists of a cluster of tombs believed to have belonged to nobles during the early Western Zhou Dynasty (1046-771 BC).
Researchers finished excavating the graveyard on Thursday.
bronze head with two faces
The sculpture was found positioned over the head of the owner of tomb M111, suggesting that it was of some significance at the time, said Zhang Changping, a history professor at Wuhan University.
"It is the first time that such a sculpture has been discovered from the Western Zhou Dynasty," said archaeologist Li Boqian from Peking University, who suspected the item to be a patron god.
The shape and design of the sculpture are similar to masks uncovered from the Sanxingdui Ruins in southwest China's Sichuan Province, although archaeologists said it more closely resembles another two-faced sculpture found in 1989 in a Shang Dynasty (1600-1046 BC) tomb in east China's Jiangxi Province.
First discovered in 2011, the Yejiashan Graveyard was inscribed among China's Top 10 Archeological Findings that year. The latest excavation has found the dynasty's first painted bronze and a tomb burying a set of 19 dings (cooking vessels) and 12 guis (food containers) that surpassed the burial norms for a king.