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Chinese pyramids‘ have been an object of fascination with alternative history researchers in the West for many decades now, though many of the stories and rumours have perhaps been overblown (not helped by a lack of official information about the pyramids of China).

Over the past decade however, more details have been forthcoming about some of these sites, as archaeologists from China publish the results of their digs in Western journals. One such example is a massive step pyramid currently being excavated in the ruins of a 4300-year-old city in north-west China known today as Shimao.

Writing in the respected journal Antiquity, archaeologists Li Jaang, Zhouyong Sun, Jing Shao and Min Li reported that the ancient Chinese pyramid is at least 230 feet (70m) high and has a base that spans 59 acres (24ha). The pyramid – once thought to be part of the Great Wall which runs nearby, but since discovered to be much older than the more well-known monument – was decorated with eye symbols and hybrid human-animal faces.

According to Live Science:

The pyramid contains 11 steps, each of which was lined with stone. On the topmost step, there “were extensive palaces built of rammed earth, with wooden pillars and roofing tiles, a gigantic water reservoir, and domestic remains related to daily life,” the researchers wrote.

The city’s rulers lived in these palaces, and art and craft production were carried out nearby. “Evidence so far suggests that the stepped pyramid complex functioned not only as a residential space for ruling Shimao elites, but also as a space for artisanal or industrial craft production,” the archaeologists wrote.

A series of stone walls with ramparts and gates was built around the pyramid and the city. “At the entrance to the stepped pyramid were sophisticated bulwarks [defensive walls] whose design suggests that they were intended to provide both defense and highly restricted access,” the archaeologists wrote.

Interestingly, jade artifacts were found inserted into spaces between the blocks in all of the city’s structures.

The excavation of the Chinese pyramid also uncovered a morbid secret: human sacrifices. “In the outer gateway of the eastern gate on the outer rampart alone,” the archaeologists report, “six pits containing decapitated human heads have been found.”