Han Tomb Excavation
Shaanxi Provincial People's Government made public the details of
the partial excavation of the Yangling Tomb of the Western Han Dynasty
on September 16, 1999. The Yangling Tomb, a Western Han (202 B.C.-16
A.D.) imperial mausoleum that had been undisturbed for about 2,100
years, has been excavated partially. Found in the tomb were color-painted
nude pottery figurines, and 90 large subordinate burial pits around
it, covering an area of more than 7,000 square meters. In these
pits, a large number of cultural relics were found. Also discovered
was the largest human sacrifice graveyard ever found in China up
to now. A total of 5,000 sacrificial burial tombs have been verified,
and the graveyard covers a total area of 3.5 square km. From the
excavated 280 sacrificial tombs, more than 5,000 pieces and sets
of various kinds of cultural relics were unearthed.
The Yangling mausoleum is the joint tomb of Liu Qi, Emperor Jingdi
of Han (188-141 B.C.), and the empress of the king Xiaojing, situated
on the Xianyang plateau in Shaanxi Province. It is the farthest
east of the nine Western Han imperial mausoleums on the loess plateau.
From 1991 to October of 1994,large-scale archaeological excavations
and studies of the Yangling Tomb were launched. From a site, which
accounts for only one thirteenth of the total area of the sacrificial
burial pits, about 600 color-painted pottery figurines and 4,000
pieces of various cultural relics were unearthed. The figurines
included warriors escorting the imperial chariot, attendants watching
over boxes and cases, cattle drovers and clerks. There were also
animal models produced in different styles.
Researchers found that these Han figurines were first modeled
as nude bodies, painted with hair and skin colors, fitted with movable
wooded arms and hands, and then clothed. The clothing was damaged
and the wooden arms had rotted over the centuries. But the colors
remain as bright as when they were first painted.
The figurines generally are 62 centimeters tall. They have (male
or female) sex organs, navels and all the functional bodily orifices.
The animal figurines include pigs, dogs, sheep, cocks and hens,
all made in a vivid and lively style.