1,700-year-old Legal Document Found in NW Province

An incomplete document dating back 1,700 years just has been unearthed in northwest China's Gansu province, providing a valuable clue for archeologists on the long-lost Criminal Law of the imperial Jin Dynasty (265-420).

The hand-written Annotation on the Criminal Law of the Jin Dynasty was pasted on a coffin in the Bijiatan site of Yumen city in Gansu.

Because the coffin was seriously decayed, only more than 5,000 Chinese characters were still recognizable, said Zhang Junmin, associate research fellow of the Gansu Relic and Archaeology Research Institute.

According to historical records, the 50,000-character donation on the Criminal Law of Jin Dynasty was an explanatory document written by Zhang Pei on the 20-section law, which was enacted in the year 268 and sank into oblivion during the last years of the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420).

Wang Hui, deputy head of the institute, said that the rare discovery had enriched China's historical materials on ancient criminal laws and may facilitate the study on the development of China's legal system.

Archeologists also found combs, pottery and copper wares, pieces of silk and other items which were all funeral objects.



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