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Ancient Tomb Opened, Ownership Unclear
Chinese archeologists Monday opened the coffin in the No.1 tomb of Jiuliandun Tombs, which can be dated back to the Warring States Period (475 BC-221 BC) in Zaoyang City of Hubei Province, central China.

Scientists found bones of the ownership and a small quantity of relics. They can only judge the dead to be a senior official about 1.75 meters tall, but the concrete identity and gender is still not clear.

By now the tomb has yielded 696 pieces of cultural relics.

The opening of the coffin was brought ahead of the plan due to serious landslides caused by continual raining, snowing and increasing people entering into the excavation site.

The coffin was found to contain a smaller one which was "hung" inside with the support of four beams 30 centimeters from the bottom of the larger coffin. Part of the coffins were painted bright red.

Judging from the skeleton, the dead was put with the head eastward so that he could "inspect" the carriages and horses buried in front of his tomb when he "sit up," experts say.

The dead lies with face up and the hands crossed upon chest. The skull is kept in sound condition.

A bronze sword of 40 centimeters long lies at the right of the skeleton, which was sheathed tightly but with no handle.

Experts hoped the sword might be clues to the identity of the dead since swords can bear inscriptions about the owners.

Two pieces of round jade in the diameter of two centimeters were found inlaid in a plate of the coffin. Black debris was also spotted on and beside the skeleton, which may be the vestige of silk used to wrap the body, according to experts.

The opening also yielded five Ding, tripods or cauldrons to boil meat and cereals, and eight Gui, deep circular vessels with two or four handles used as container for grains.

Experts are still working on the relics, in a hope to find out more clues to reveal the identity of the owner.

(Xinhua News Agency December 24, 2002)

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