Valuables unearthed from imperial tombs

By Li Jingrong
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, November 21, 2013
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A large number of rare treasures have been unearthed from the ancient imperial tombs discovered earlier this year in Yangzhou, Jiangsu Province, conveying the genius of ancient Chinese artisanship and the civilization of the time.

The rare treasures unearthed from the tombs of the Emperor Yang Guang and Empress Xiao of the Sui Dynasty (589-618).

The rare treasures unearthed from the tombs of the Emperor Yang Guang and Empress Xiao of the Sui Dynasty (589-618).

At a press conference jointly organized by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage and the Chinese Society of Archaeology on Nov. 16, archaeologists confirmed that the ancient tombs discovered in Yangzhou, Jiangsu Province, in April of this year, were the final resting place of Emperor Yang Guang and Empress Xiao of the Sui Dynasty (589-618).

In addition to the two male teeth and female skeletal remains, more than 100 burial objects were excavated. They included rare treasures made of jade, bronze and iron, pottery, lacquer ware as well as wooden objects.

The No. 1 Tomb (or M1) is a square-shaped, brick-built catacomb comprising five parts: the main hall, east and west rooms, a path leading up to the main hall and a corridor leading to the main entrance. The grave is 24.48 meters long, 8.22 meters wide and 2.76 meters high.

Among the treasures retrieved, was a 13-ring gilt jade belt experts described as "the most complete unearthed high-level relic in Chinese archaeological history." In addition, four bronze doorknockers are also considered as eye-catching ancient imperial belongings.

No. 2 Tomb (or M2) is a drum-shaped, brick-built catacomb featuring five segments, just like the No.1 Tomb. It is 12.64 meters long, 5.9 meters wide and 1.6 meters high.

It contains more than 200 rare treasures, the most precious of which include a jade tablet, a 16-chime set of bells and 20 series of L-shaped jade plates -- a kind of ancient Chinese percussion instrument. A set of women's headgear shows particularly excellent workmanship.

No. 1 Tomb is located in the center of the mound and No. 2 Tomb on its southeastern edge. Archaeologists believe No. 2 was built later than No. 1, according to its location and internal structure. Identification of two male teeth and a female's skeletal remains also show that Emperor Yang was about 50 years old at the time of his death. Empress Xiao is thought to have been around 56 years of age and 1.5 meters tall.

Tong Mingkang, vice-director of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, spoke highly of the archaeological achievement at the press conference. Continued exploration and further study of the ancient tomb and its history are needed, he said.

Since its discovery in April, the tomb has drawn nationwide attention. The administration immediately sent archaeologists and historians to the site to carry out intensive research.

Meanwhile, archeologists said that the latest discovery formed proof that yet another mausoleum some six kilometers away, regarded as Yang's burial site since the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), was in fact a fake.

According to Chinese historians, Yang's tyrannical behavior brought on the demise of the Sui Dynasty, but the emperor did also complete several great construction projects during his reign, including the Grand Canal and the reconstruction of several parts of the Great Wall.

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