The Shanxi Bronze Museum in Taiyuan opened its doors to the public on July 27. Among the museum's 2,200 bronzeware exhibits, the earliest piece is a 2,800-year-old bronze plate.
Unlike other historical museums in North China's Shanxi province, a cradle of ancient Chinese civilization in the middle reaches of the Yellow River, nearly one third of the Bronze Museum's collection is made up of booty grabbed by local police from dealers trading in illegal cultural relics and raiders of ancient tombs. Locals call it a "lost-and-found" museum and so far it has been receiving around 3,500 visits a day.
"Each of the recovered cultural relics tells a tough story. They were scattered around the world before the Shanxi police brought them home," says Han Binghua, an archaeologist at the Shanxi Cultural Relics Bureau.
"Most major ancient civilizations have, at some point, experienced a Bronze Age, among which China is one of the earliest," Han notes. "In the Xia (c.21st century-16th century BC), Shang (c.16th century-11th century BC) and Zhou (c.11th century-256 BC) dynasties, China's bronze forging industry was highly developed."
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