Family cemetery of ancient official excavated in China

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Archaeologists in northwest China's Shaanxi Province have unearthed a well-preserved, large family cemetery site of an ancient Chinese official in the Sui Dynasty (581-618), the provincial institute of archaeology said Friday.

The site, which consists of seven tombs, surrounded by a large square trench, was found in a village in the Xixian new area of Xi'an, the provincial capital.

Measuring 147.7 meters in length and 138.5 meters in width, the site covers an area of more than 20,000 square meters, and is so far the largest and best-preserved Sui cemetery site, according to Li Ming, a researcher from the institute.

The owner of the largest of the seven tombs has been identified as Wang Shao, a high-ranking military official during the Southern and Northern Dynasties (420-589) and the reign of Emperor Wendi of the succeeding Sui Dynasty.

A total of 67 pieces and sets of burial objects, including figurines of warriors, tomb-guardian creatures, and clay hogs and chickens, were discovered in Wang's tomb, which had been badly raided, Li said.

Archaeologists also found a few fragments of Wang's epitaph that were beyond restoration.

The findings will greatly enrich the archaeological materials for research on the characteristics of family cemeteries, as well as burial customs and rules during that time, Li added. 

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