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Ancient tomb reveals its secrets
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An unearthed terra cotta horse head

An unearthed terra cotta horse head

A tomb uncovered August 11 on a construction site in the city of Wuwei, in China's northwestern Gansu Province, has yielded more than 50 priceless relics that had been hidden from the world for centuries.

A group of workers stumbled across the brick tomb when laying foundations. When they realized the significance of what they had found, they stopped work. A group of 20 archaeologists were called to the site and began an excavation.

After less than two hours the archaeologists discovered a large haul of terra cotta and carved figures of people and animals.

Zhang Zhenhua, director of the Archaeology Academy of Wuwei City, said the composition of tomb’s brickwork indicated that it dated back to the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220).

"The find will enrich our knowledge of daily life and funeral rites in the Eastern Han Dynasty," Zhang said.

Five terra cotta horses were the highlight of the find. "It is very rare for so many terra cotta horses to be found in a single tomb," said archaeologist Sun Shouling, clearly ecstatic over the find.

Made up of three chambers and a corridor, the grandiose, well-structured tomb faces east, measuring seven meters long, six meters wide, and four meters tall.

"From the condition of the site, it looks like the tomb has already been looted sometime in the past," Zhang added.

There is no inscription or other information to indicate who is buried in the tomb, but given its grandeur and the riches discovered, archaeologists say it can be inferred that it was the last resting place of a dignitary with a good taste.

At the time of going to press, the excavation work was still going on.

(China.org.cn by He Shan, August 13, 2008)

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