An 8.5-ton, 2,000-year-old stone rhino was excavated near Chengdu's Tianfu Square and put on display at the Jinsha Site Museum.
Before construction began on the site that will eventually hold the Sichuan Grand Theater, the Chengdu Archaelogical Institute began excavating the area. The Sichuan basin has yielded numerous historical finds, and this time was no exception.
Numerous artifacts have been found, dating as far back as the Warring States Period (475-221 BC), but many are from more recent eras. The artifacts are various building materials and fragments as well as implements for daily life like pottery, metal ware, coins, and eave tiles, which indicate the location of the Shu Kingdom's royal palace.
The rhinoceros is completely intact and measures 3.3 meters long and 1.7 meters tall. Decorative carvings on the sculpture lead archaeologists to estimate that it was made between the State of Qin and the Han Dynasty, possibly in connection to Dujiangyan engineer Li Bing, several thousands of years ago. Sand that was in the pit indicates that at that time the area around Tianfu Square was a river.
The rhino was actually discovered in 1973, but, lacking necessary tools, workers were unable to excavate it and it was reburied. Locals who recalled the discovery rushed to the Jinsha Museum to catch a glimpse of the legendary relic while it was on display during the Spring Festival holiday. This time the excavation took only 10 minutes, it was reported, but loading the sculpture onto a truck for transportation required another few hours.
Excavations in the area in previous years have yielded similarly intact pieces that date back thousands of years, including a lion and a smaller rhinoceros.
The rhinoceros featured prominently in this year's Sun Festival at the Jinsha Site Museum, inspiring numerous rhinoceros-shaped lanterns, including one fantastically massive one, and an actual-sized stone relief that visitors could touch.