The remnants of a 3,000-year-old altar to the sun have been discovered in north west China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
It is believed to have been built by the tribes that once inhabited the grassland in three circular layers, using stones that archaeologists believe must have been pulled to the site from many kilometres away by men and horses.
Experts say the altar, which is 100 metres in diameter, closely resembles the heaven-worshipping altars of the dynasties that once ruled China’s central plains. Liu Chuanming, one of the archaeologists studying the ruins, said:
“This proves that central plain culture had already long reached the foot of Mount Tianshan, in the Bayanbulak Grassland, the choke point of the Silk Road.”
Sun-worship has been practiced by Chinese people throughout history. Other examples include the sun altar, and the Temple of Heavens and Ritan (the Temple of Sun), built in Beijing hundreds of years ago.