Live Science reports that a step pyramid in the Neolithic site known as Shimao has been excavated in northern China by a team of researchers led by Li Jaang of Zhengzhou University, Zhouyong Sun and Jing Shao of the Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology, and Min Li of the University of California, Los Angeles. It had been previously thought the structure was part of the Great Wall of China, which was built between 2,700 and 400 years ago. The 4,300-year-old pyramid’s 11 steps were lined with stone. On the top step, some 230 feet high, palaces for the city’s rulers were built with wood and rammed earth. The top step was even equipped with a water reservoir. The pyramid and its surrounding settlement were fortified with ramparts and gates. Six pits containing decapitated human heads were found in the outer rampart. The victims may have been captives from Zhukaigou, a nearby city.
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