TAXKORGAN, Xinjiang, June 4 (Xinhua) -- Chinese archaeologists have started excavating a cluster of tombs on the Pamirs Plateau that are arranged to imply sun worshipping.
The tombs were found in Xinjiang's Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County, a border region neighboring Afghanistan and Pakistan in 2007, and the arrangement is a new mystery on the crossroads of the ancient Silk Road.
Eights tombs, each two meters in diameter, were arranged on a 100-meter-long and 50-meter-wide platform, with lines of black stones and lines of white stones stretching alongside like sun rays, according to the archaeology team with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Carbon dating results showed that the tombs date back about 2,500 years, or 300 years before China's first emperor established the Qin Dynasty (221-207 BC).
"The ray-like stone strings might imply sun worship. No similar ones have been detected before in all of Central Asia," team captain Wu Xinhua said. He added that the discovery illustrates a gap between their knowledge and studies, and previous findings about the history of sun worshipping culture in the Eurasian hinterland.
Dilsadiq, head of the county's cultural relics department, said that the people buried in the tombs might have dignified social statuses because the black stones carried from afar and lined up with a certain pattern were a rare resource in the area.
Three similar but smaller tomb clusters with ray-like stones have also been discovered in the county.