BEIJING (AP) _ Workers building a highway in north China's Shaanxi province dug a ditch through an archaeological site and damaged relics dating back 5,000 years, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported Monday.

The ditch was cut through the Shizuitou cultural relics site in Baoji, a city about 110 miles west of Xi'an. It was hundreds of yards long, dozens of yards wide and about 65 feet deep, Xinhua said.

The provincial government declared Shizuitou a protected site in 1992, and construction on it was forbidden under a national relics protection law.

Pottery and house ruins, three tombs and other relics were severely damaged, and police confiscated ``a large number'' of relics held illegally by construction workers, the report said.

The government news agency did not identify the company.

Shaanxi is known for its numerous archaeological sites. The most famous, near Xi'an, is the tomb of Qin Shihuangdi, where thousands of life-sized terra cotta warriors were buried 2,000 years ago.