Ancient Cemetery Discovered in Shanxi, China

“Based on the unearthed remains, including bamboo scripts, iron knives, a grindstone and musical instruments, the owner of the tomb was probably a civilian official of the royal government of the Western Han Dynasty. It is the first time bamboo scripts of the Han Dynasty in Shanxi have been discovered, filling in one of the blanks of archaeology for the period.” – Archaeologist Ji Ruibao

The Shanxi Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology recently announced that experts have verified the authenticity of a large Dongshan cemetery in Taiyuan that was created by the Western Han Dynasty (202 BC-AD 8) about 2000-2200 years ago. The size of the cemetery is 64,000 square meters and around 23 percent (15,000 sq.m.) of it was unearthed between 2015 to 2018.

To give you a general sense of where this cemetery was discovered, here’s an image I took from Google maps:

The archaeologists working on the site discovered two building base sites, 2 tombs on the site, 11 tombs around the site, tile fragments, and a number of artifacts. There were also 10 meter wide paths bearing wheel marks discovered around the cemetery.

“Although these two tombs have not yet been excavated, the layout of the tombs indicates that the owners could be nobility from the Han Dynasty.” – Chang Yimin, a Cultural Relics and Archaeology Institute of Taiyuan researcher.

The two tombs inside of the cemetery are 163 meters (534.777 feet) apart. The experts commenting on this claim that these un-excavated tombs might have belonged to a couple. Pertaining to the 11 tombs found outside of the cemetery, the excavators discovered 66 sets of cultural relics. These sets included items such as musical instruments, lacquered boxes, and bamboo slips.

The relationship between the 2 tombs inside and 11 tombs outside of the cemetery has not yet been determined. The majority of the site is still not excavated and I’m eager to see what else gets unveiled.

Here are some images of items found during the excavations:

Bamboo scripts from the site. Photo credit: Shanxi Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology

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