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|Sunday, August 20, 2000, updated at 20:50(GMT+8)|
Well-Preserved Corpse Unlikely in Beijing Ancient TombA Chinese archaeologist estimated that it is unlike that a well-preserved corpse would be found in a 2,000-year tomb currently excavated in western Beijing.
Xu Pingfang, an archaeologist with Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, explained that it was because the tomb was probably not sealed off since part of it was found collapsed.
The tomb, located in Laoshan area about 10 kilometers west of downtown Beijing, was discovered early this year. It is believed to be the tomb of a king or queen of the Yan principality from the Western Han Dynasty (206 B.C.- 24 A.D.).
The original corpse could be found rotted and only some bones could be left in the coffin, Xu said. A team of archaeological workers have been working on the tomb during the past eight months.The occupant of the tomb is still unknown since the casket has not been opened yet.
Ancient corpses unearthed in China are of two kinds: mummies and soft bodies. Mummies were often found in drought-prone western areas such as Xinjiang where the corpses can naturally turn into mummies in the dry weather.
These mummies are different from the ones found in the pyramids of Egypt, which were wrapped tight with cloth after the interior organs were removed and special spices were applied from inside to the surface of the body.
Soft bodies discovered in China were usually found in well sealed tombs built with bricks or stones, sometimes with spices, during the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and thereafter.
In the 1970s, a rare but well-preserved female corpse with its skin still elastic was uncovered in a tomb dating back some 2,100 years to the Western Han Dynasty in Hunan Province, central China.
Xu said that it was because the female corpse was preserved in a coffin sealed up without oxygen and germs. Besides, the moist weather in the south prevented the corpse from becoming dry.
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