Who did the 3,000-year-old gold mask found in China belong to?

A gold funeral mask was found in an ancient tomb in China's Henan Province that dates back to approximately the Shang Dynasty.

 Gold death-mask known as the "Mask of Agamemnon".  (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Gold death-mask known as the "Mask of Agamemnon".
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Archeologists have found a gold "funeral mask" dating back more than 3,000 years ago.

According to local authorities, the mask was found in an ancient noble tomb in Zhengzhou, the capital of central China's Henan Province. The tomb was discovered recently in the ruins of a city from the Shang Dynasty, according to the Zhengzhou Municipal Institute of Cultural Heritage and Archeology.

Information on the gold mask

It measures 18.3 cm in length and 14.5 cm in width and weighs around 40 grams. "The size of the mask means it could basically cover the face of an average adult," Huang Fucheng, from the institute, said.

The mask was one of many gold artifacts that were uncovered within the tomb which also had more than 200 burial objects, including bronze and jade artifacts.

Large numbers of gold artifacts were discovered at the Sanxingdui Ruins site in southwest China's Sichuan Province, but the gold was rarely found at any cultural relic sites of the Shang Dynasty in the central plains.

Excavations to learn more about early China

"The tomb is a significant find for research into the burial rituals and systems of the Shang Dynasty," Chen Lüsheng told the Global Times.

"Although this gold mask is older than those unearthed from the Sanxingdui Ruins, we still need more evidence and a larger amount of archeological discoveries to confirm a direct connection between the Shang city ruins and the Sanxingdui Ruins," Lüsheng added.

Since 2018, the National Cultural Heritage Administration has carried out 11 archeological projects trying to trace and research the origins of Chinese civilization. There have been more than 200 excavations that have seen significant achievements.

Experts believe that the findings could open doors to ancient burial rituals and the gold culture of the dynasty.