An Ancient Musical Instrument Has Been Discovered In China

Chinese archaeologists working in Hubei province's Zaoyang City have unearthed an ancient stringed instrument dating back thousands of years. It's said to be the earliest ever found in China.

Above: a "qin-type" instrument, which closely resembles a se. Credit: silkqin.

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It's called a "se" and it was found near a frame that holds chime bells. They were among a number of items pulled up by archaeologists working at the site, a complex of tombs which measures 4,920 feet (1,500 meters) by 2,620 feet (800 meters). The discovery of the unique stringed instrument will help the study of musical development from the Western Zhou Dynasty (1,046-771 B.C.) to the Warring States Period (476-221 B.C.).

The se is an ancient Chinese plucked zither that typically features anywhere from 19 to 50 strings, moveable bridges, and a range of five octaves. During the Zhou Dynasty, it was played during sacrificial offerings. The base was made from wood (which featured ornate patterns), and the strings from twisted silk.

A commemorative stamp showing the se.

The grave site also yielded large pits for horses and weapons, which could challenge conventional notions about the power of the Zeng state. This era, which spanned from the early Spring and Autumn Period (approximately 771 to 476 B.C.), may have boasted a larger power than traditionally assumed.

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[ China.org via Archaeology News Network ]

Images: silkqin & China.org.

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