A large scale Western Han Dynasty (206 BC - 25 AD) tomb was discovered at Fengpengling in Wangcheng County in Hunan Province.
Piles of yellow cypress wood were found between the coffin and tomb wall, evidence of a typical Western Han Dynasty burial style reserved for a king during that period.
Experts who excavated the Mawangdui Han Dynasty Tomb in Changsha said that after examining the tomb at Fengpengling they believe the status and rank of the buried person in the tomb and the scale of burial have exceeded that of Mawangdui, another famous tomb uncovered in Changsha in 1972.
The relics were found at Fengpengling during construction on December 8, 2005.
After the excavation, experts from Changsha municipal government and Wangcheng County Cultural Relics Institute believe the tomb is a large vertical earth pit tomb of the Han Dynasty.
It is located in the central part of a hill, running from north to south. It consists of a tomb tunnel, front and rear chamber, with a total length of 30.3 metres.
The tunnel is 10.7 metres long and 5.6 metres wide, and the chambers are 19.6 metres long and 14.8 metres wide.
The tomb was named Fengpengling No One Tomb by the archaeologists. Excavations started on March 10 this year.
As most of the earth in the pit was removed, the inner coffin in the chamber was gradually exposed and the structure of the outer coffin became clearer. Between the outer coffin and the tomb walls, there are layers of cypress wood. The top of the coffin has collapsed.
The structure of the tomb was in a very popular imperial burial style of the Han Dynasty called huangchang ticou in Chinese.
Huangchang refers to the yellow core of the cypress wood and ticou means the heads of the wood facing the outer coffin.
Xiong Chuanxin, former curator of Hunan Provincial Museum who participated in the excavation of Mawangdui Han Tomb, said the standard of the tomb was higher than that of Mawangdui. With the owner of the tomb most definitely having a higher social status than the owner of Mawangdui tomb.
One thing worth mentioning is the hill where the tomb is located is made of rocks.
The tomb pit is actually dug out of a rock and the edge of the tomb wall is very smooth.
Archaeologists found two holes at the rear part of the tunnel and the rear chamber. Inside the holes, a bronze-gilded goat-shaped paperweight, gold foil jade pendants, celadon bowls and a celadon double-lip pot were found.
According to experts, the tomb was robbed during the Sui and Tang dynasties (518-907). It is certain that the goat-shaped paperweight and the jade pendants were burial articles. The celadon bowls and double-lip pot were probably left by the robbers.
The paperweight might have been used to press down the sheet on the coffin.
The interior of the goat is filled with lead so it is quite heavy. The goat is kneeling down and the remaining golden colour on the surface indicates that it was made from the gold-plating technique.
The jade pendant is white but broken. The original shape of the jade is square. There are engraved patterns gilded with gold foil. Gilded jade was popular in the middle and late Western Han Dynasty.
The next step is very exciting: to open the cover of the coffin and the chambers.
As the tomb belongs to the middle and late Western Han Dynasty, the person buried in the tomb might be the king of the Changsha Kingdom. There were two clans that took the post of the king of the Changsha Kingdom.
One was surnamed Wu and the other Liu. Experts believe the possibility that it is Wu is small, so it looks as if it might be a tomb for the king of the Liu clan descendants of the imperial family of the Han Dynasty.
In addition, the queen of the time could also enjoy the burial standard of a king.
Therefore, the buried person could also be a queen of the Changsha Kingdom.
To date, Changsha has not found any tombs belonging to the Liu clan of the Western Han Dynasty.
The identity of the owner of the tomb will only be decided after the chamber is opened and the seal of the owner is found.
According to experts, historical documents only point to rough locations of the tombs of the first generation Changsha king of the Wu clan and the first generation Changsha king of the Liu clan.
Previous archaeological discoveries showed that both the Wu clan and Liu clan tombs are not close to the current tomb site.
This has caused people to believe that the previous presumption is not precise.
Source: China Daily