Snake artifact used in shamanic rituals 4,000 years ago, archaeologists say

Archaeologists in Taiwan unearthed a snake-shaped artifact likely used in ancient religious rituals.

The serpentine object, which dates back some 4,000 years, was discovered last year in Taoyuan City, about 30 miles west of Taipei, according to a Feb. 9 news release from the National Tsing Hua University’s archaeology department.

The object — made out of pottery and measuring several inches long — resembles a cobra with a raised head and mouth agape, university officials said. Its discovery is considered “important.”

At one point, the artifact would have likely been attached to a vessel, possibly a bowl, serving as a handle.

The vessel may have belonged to a shaman in a tribal society, who could have used it in rituals, university officials said.

“This reflects that ancient societies incorporated animal images into ritual sacrificial vessels to demonstrate their beliefs and cognitive systems,” Hung-Lin Chiu, a professor at the university, told Newsweek.

Snakes were revered by many prehistoric societies, since they served as a symbol of reproduction, transition or creation.

Specifically, the shedding of their skin marked the transition between life and death, university officials said.

Google Translate was used to translate a news release from the National Tsing Hua University’s archaeology department.

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