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China discovers earliest musical instruments

Updated: Jan 6,2015 8:39 PM     Xinhua

WUHAN — A cluster of musical instrument, believed the earliest in the country, have been discovered in central China’s Hubei province.

Archaeologists found a broken Se (a twenty-five-stringed plucked instrument similar to the guzheng) and the frame of a Bianzhong set (bronze chimes) in tombs which could date back to more than 2,700 years ago.

Zhang Xiang of the Hubei provincial institute of cultural relics and archaeological research, said the tombs were built in the late Western Zhou Dynasty (1046 BC-771 BC) or the Spring and Autumn Period (771 BC- 476 BC). They had been robbed and had collapsed.

“Only half of the Se remains, but we can see clearly holes on it for cords,” he said. “It is the earliest discovered in China. Delicately made, it demonstrates the high musical level of China 27 centuries ago.”

A 4.7-meter beam and seven pieces of chime bases decorated with dragon and phoenix patterns, symbols of royalty in China, were also excavated.

“We have never found such large Bianzhong sets before,” said Fang Qin, head of the institute.

The graveyard where the tombs are located covers more than a square kilometer. Archaeologists also found 400 pieces of bronze, some pottery, and 27 horse-drawn carts.