Tuesday, September 28, 2010

1,000-year-old tomb found at Anhui construction site

There is something about this story that is not quite right - perhaps it is the photograph. Why is the dude inside the tomb with a pick-ax when partial walls have already been uncovered? If this is a staged re-enactment of discovery of the tomb for the photographer, they didn't do a very good job. Hmmm... I can't help but wonder how much time elapsed between the actual uncovering of this tomb by the construction workers and when the phone call "to the authorities" was finally made. For the tomb of a family of some wealth (else they could not have built such a tomb), there seems a lack of artifacts, particularly intact artifacts. I'm suspicious. I wonder how many artifacts have already been smuggled out of the country and are now up for clandestine bidding by uber-rich private collectors. Or perhaps some of the artifacts are at this moment resting in climate-controlled locked cabinets owned by high-ranking "People's Republic" officials.

From People's Daily in English:

11:00, September 28, 2010
Photo by Xu Jixiang, People's Daily Online
Six cultural relics, including a pottery jar and pot as well as damaged pottery spindle whorl and an iron sword, were recently unearthed out of a 1,000-year-old tomb from the Southern Dynasties period found at a construction site on Huangguan Road in a chemical industry park in Anqing, Anhui Province.

The relics were handed over to the Anqing Museum on Sept. 25.

The Anqing Municipal Administration of Cultural Heritage received a call on Sept. 15 saying that an ancient tomb was discovered at a construction site in the Anqing Chemical Industry Park and archeologists were expected to investigate.

The administration immediately dispatched a group of archeologists to the tomb who later identified that it was indeed an ancient tomb. Therefore, the administration immediately put the tomb under protection and submitted an application to the Anhui Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology for more experts to jointly carry out archaeological excavations. The institute soon approved the application and sent out their experts.

With careful preparations, Anqing Cultural Relics Bureau decided to start excavations on Sept. 18. After experts made on-site investigations, the general framework of the tomb with three coffins was formulated. The masonry tomb is in the shape of the Chinese character tu (凸) and the coffins are arranged side by side.

The tomb is not large but given the structure of the tomb and other factors, experts believe that the tomb is quite likely to be a family tomb and the owner was wealthy. Further excavations have shown that the bodies in the coffins are already decayed and there are a few funeral objects within the tomb. As the tomb has no epitaphs or tombstone, the identity of the tomb owner cannot be revealed.

Through five days of continual work, archaeologists unearthed six items, including a pot with a dish-shaped mouth and two handles as well as some pottery jars. Half of the items are intact and the other half are not. The pot with a dish-shaped mouth and two handles is mainly intact and is believed to meet the standards of at least a third-grade national cultural relic.

According to cultural relic experts in Anhui Province, the tomb has existed for more than 1,000 years since the Southern Dynasties and is one of the earliest tombs found in the province. The excavation of the tomb will provide research into Anqing's funeral customs in the Southern Dynasties period as well as its historical and cultural development with more material evidence.

By People's Daily Online

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