For many years, the North China or Central Plains in the middle reaches of the Yellow River was considered the centre of Chinese civilization. This traditional concept, formulated in the phrase "the Chinese in the inner area, the barbarians in the outer regions", was fundamentally uprooted, however, by new archaeological discoveries made in the late 1980s. Displaying unique local, indigenous features, finds at a site in Sanxingdui revealed a highly developed ancient Shu civilization. Sanxingdui provides concrete proof of the existence of a regional cultural centre, with its own distinctive traits, that played a large part in the formation and development of the wider Chinese civilization.

The discovery of the Sanxingdui site dates back to 1929, but it was not until 1986 that it drew the attention - and the amazement - of the world. That was the year that two sacrificial pits were found at the site and a host of artefacts was unearthed, including advanced bronze, gold and jade ware in unique and previously unknown styles.

Then, in 2001, a new site was discovered some 50 kilometres away at Jinsha. Relics very similar to those found at Sanxingdui were excavated, including jade, gold, bronze and stone ware as well as ivory, that provided valuable clues to the development of the Sanxingdui culture.

The archaeological sites of Sanxingdui and Jinsha offer important keys for unlocking the mysteries of the ancient Shu Kingdom. They also represent a significant cultural core in the Yangtze River valley. With the generous assistance of the Sichuan Provincial Cultural Relics Bureau, over 120 archaeological treasures including huge bronze heads, bronze masks, gold sceptre, gold-foil ornaments, jade cong, jade rings, jade ge blades, pottery, cowry shells and turtle plastron selected from the collections of the Sanxingdui Museum, Chengdu Museum and the Sichuan Provincial Institute of Archaeology, are showcased in this exhibition. They reveal the brilliant civilization that once existed in the ancient Shu region thousands of years ago.