Rare Western Han Dynasty tomb found in southwest China

(Xinhua) 09:52, December 06, 2023

CHONGQING, Dec. 5 (Xinhua) -- A well-preserved tomb, dating back to the Western Han Dynasty (202 BC-25 AD), with a clear recorded year has been discovered in Wulong District of southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, the Chongqing Cultural Relics and Archaeology Research Institute said Tuesday.

This archaeological project is a rescue excavation and protection work carried out to forge cooperation with the Baima project, the last of a cascade of hydropower stations on the section of the Wujiang River in Chongqing.

With the approval of the National Cultural Heritage Administration, the Chongqing Cultural Relics and Archaeology Research Institute set up a work team of more than 20 people from different archaeology research institutes and universities to excavate the site in March this year.

According to Huang Wei, the leader of the archaeological project, a collection of tombs dating from the Han Dynasty (202 BC-220 AD) to the Six Dynasties period (222-589) were newly discovered as part of this project. Among them, the tomb dating back to the Western Han Dynasty was the most important, and more than 600 precious cultural relics such as lacquerware, wood ware, bamboo ware, pottery and bronze ware were unearthed from the tomb.

Due to the tomb being filled with water throughout the year, it remains undisturbed and unharmed, and the funerary objects in the tomb are well preserved.

"What is exciting about this discovery is not just the large number of unearthed artifacts but also the list of burial items containing a precise year record, which has been verified as 193 BC, providing clarity on the tomb's burial timeframe. An unearthed jade ware from the tomb shows the prominent position of the tomb owner," Huang said.

The list of burial items found in the tomb is complete and clearly records the name, quantity and size of the funerary objects.

The tomb discovered this time is the one containing the largest quantity of lacquered wood and bamboo wares ever found at one time in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River in China, said Bai Jiujiang, head of the Chongqing Cultural Relics and Archaeology Research Institute.

Based on publicly available information, it is also the earliest tomb of the Western Han Dynasty found in China, with a clear recorded year, according to Bai.

This is a major archaeological discovery regarding the Qin and Han Dynasties in the Wujiang River Basin, offering physical evidence and important basic research materials for future study of burial customs and the comparative analysis of famous artifacts from the early Western Han Dynasty, according to the archaeologists.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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