Ancient Coffin to Be Opened in Month

A coffin from Beijing's ancient Laoshan tomb that dates back some 2,000 years is expected to be opened in late September.

Archaeologists, who have been excavating the tomb for eight months, will take the coffin out of its two outer caskets and open it in the Beijing Research Institute of Cultural Heritage, said Wang Wuyu, vice-director of the institute.

The Laoshan area, located 10 kilometers west of downtown Beijing, was a major settlement site during the Qin and Han (221 BC-AD 220) dynasties. Some relics from the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) were found there in the 1960s.

Following the discovery of a skeleton in the front chamber of the tomb, the identity of the tomb's occupant has become a burning question for many who watched the excavation, not to mention those who took part.

Archaeologist Yu Weichao has suggested the tomb was for a woman. Yu said she probably lived during the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 24)

He said if it is confirmed that the tomb was built for a woman, there is a strong possibility that she would have been a queen.

Wang Wuyu, the director of the Laoshan ancient tomb excavation commission, however, refused to make any comments on the identity of the tomb's occupant.

"It's too early to say who the tomb's occupant is before we open the coffin," Wang said.

(China Daily)

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