An ancient Han State royal cemetery of the late Warring States Period was recently found in Xinzheng City, Henan Province. As the first discovery of a Han State royal tomb it has filled an archeological gap, and was chosen as one of the 25 finalists to compete for the top 10 new archeological findings of 2008.
The site of cemetery in Huzhuang Village is located on the west of Zheng Han Ancient City, a cultural relic of national importance under the protection of the state, and an important cemetery of the Eastern Zhou Period (770-221 BC). The Henan Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology started diggings in October 2006 and more than 12,000 square meters have been excavated to date.
Leader of the archeological team Ma Juncai said that in the core of the cemetery are two huge tombs of heaped earth, shaped like the Chinese character "中". More than 10 unearthed bronzes are carved with Chinese characters meaning "Queen" and "Queen Mother", so the team leader is sure that this is a Han State royal cemetery of the late Warring States Period, with tombs of a couple at its heart. Moreover, its size and its unusual layout are infrequent in China.
Covering over 40,000 square meters, the cemetery is laid out in a neat rectangle. "The tomb must have been designed with particular attention. Its orientation, size, and layout, along with the earth mounds – all are in harmony, showing its careful design and construction." Ma said.
Ma explained that around the two complex and opulently-decorated tombs are three parallel trenches, 20-meters apart, with a broad gateway at the center of the southern part. A short ditch connects each of the trenches, and so a vast drainage and protection system is formed. This structure is the first of its kind discovered among tombs of the same period.
"With the assembly of concentric trenches, buildings at the side of and on the top of the tombs, and the tombs themselves, the cemetery fills a gap in the Eastern Zhou Period." Ma added.
The archeologists also found an east-to-west leading road in the northwestern excavation area. The road is seven meters wide and comprises the road surface and side ditches. Wheel-tracks can easily be distinguished on its surface. This finding will provide new material for research on transportation in the capital city of Han State.
By the time of the Warring States Period (475 - 221 BC), only seven vassal states remained, the rest having been absorbed by Qi, Chu, Yan, Han, Zhao, Wei and Qin. These seven states were called the "Seven powers of the Warring States Period".
Zheng Han Ancient City is the site of the capital city of the Zheng State and the Han State. It was established as the capital of the Zheng State during the late Western Zhou period (1046 – 771 BC). After the Han state overthrew the Zheng State in 375 BC, it moved its capital there. The capital city was abandoned when the Qin State conquered the Han State in 230 BC. Having acted as the capital of the Zheng and Han states for over 500 years, the site was named as Zheng Han Ancient City.
(China.org.cn by Zhou Jing March 24, 2009)