Shaanxi Archeology Museum

It’s hard to visit a museum in Xi’an. You have to book way in advance, and touts are always getting the tickets before anyone else. So although we couldn’t get into the Xi’an Museum this time, we did manage to visit the newer Archeology Museum in the south of the city.

Shaanxi Archeology Museum displays exhibits that show the progression of early human technology. From ancient pottery to early forms of artistic expression, the museum is laid out to allow you see how humanity developed.

More than that, the museum is an exhibition about archeology itself, showing how artefacts were excavated, as well as how they are pieced back together, and how archeologists guess what the full piece may have looked like when it was originally created.

Early on there was a point where I was starting to get sick of seeing pottery. But as you progress through the exhibitions, it starts to go into how humans evolved, how people were buried, how hunting methods improved, how early arms and armour were developed, and so on.

Early on there was a replica of an ancient drum (closer to a djembe) that you could actually hit to see what it sounds like. This woke up the fake hippie in me, and I played for a minute, pretending I was in a drum circle.

The focus here are the discoveries made in Shaanxi, of course. Shaanxi is proud of its achievements in archeology, and rightly so. Everyone knows the Terracotta Army, but Shaanxi province invests a lot into many other dig sites that uncover the history of both China and the rest of the world.

One of my favourite exhibits here comes near the end. They found a wooden chest that had completely rotted away, except the paint and the copper hinges had survived. They made a replica of what they thought the chest would look like and painted it in the same way the original would have been painted.

This museum is a slightly hidden gem, and is worth the visit even if you can get into the other museums while you are here. Just don’t do what I did and leave the camera hanging in the toilet – it’s lucky I realised where it was before we left…

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