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China Protects Cultural Relics in Quake Area
    2008-06-10 16:09:57     CRIENGLISH.com
China is mounting an all-out effort to save thousands of cultural relics in the quake-hit Sichuan province. In Sanxingdui Museum, an important ancient Sichuan site, experts and workers are busy reinforcing precious cultural relics. Our reporter Liao Jibo has the details.

Located in the city of Guanghan, 40 kilometers from the Sichuan capital Chengdu, Sanxingdui, is recognized as one of the most important ancient remains in the world for its age, vast size, and rich cultural contents.

The magnitude-8.0 tremor on May 12 shook the museum, but luckily the building and most of its contents remain largely intact.

Vice curator of the museum, Zhang Yaohui, says the quake left large cracks in some earth mounds outside the museum, which served as walls of the ancient city.

Now, they are doing some repair and reinforcement work to protect the perimeter.

"After the quake took place, we took some emergency rescue measures to save and protect the relics. We've built scaffolds to support the walls and we have used some chemical adhesives to fix the cracks."

One of the most important artifacts inside Sanxingdui Museum is the Holy Bronze Tree. Measuring nearly four meters tall, the tree has nine branches decorated with birds, flowers, and other ornaments. It is believed to represent a connection between Heaven and Earth.

Because it was so well protected, the delicate and priceless tree escaped severe damage from the heavy quake, but the museum still decided to enhance protection measures as a precaution against future tremors.

Yang Xiaowu, a researcher from Sichuan Institute of Historic Relic Archaeology and Research is busy with the work.

"We will make sure that if the May 12 earthquake happened again, it still wouldn't be affected."

However, some cultural relics have not been as lucky as those in Sanxingdui. In Sichuan alone, over 80 culturally significant sites under state protection were affected, with more than 1,800 items damaged.

To avoid further loss caused by aftershocks, the Sanxingdui Museum has also taken responsibility for protecting some relics from other parts of Sichuan. More than 6,000 artifacts were transferred to Sanxingdui from Mianyang, one of the cities hardest hit by the quake.

The collections from Mianyang have been kept in a warehouse which can resist a magnitude 9 earthquake.

Museum staff said they are working 24 hours a day for the safety of those relics.

"Our guards are monitoring those items around the clock. The room has also been kept at an even temperature and humidity. We used steel pipes, solid wood, and foam plastics to protect them."

Zhang Yaohui, vice curator of the museum said they are also planning some long-term projects to protect cultural relics from future disasters.

Last Friday, China's State Administration of Cultural Heritage estimated that about 6 billion yuan, or over 850 million U.S. dollars, will be needed to renovate and protect the cultural heritage sites damaged in the tremor.

Liao Jibo, CRI news.


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