The excavation of a tomb in central China occupied by a prince and his princess of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) is said to be the country's most significant archeological find of the period after that of the Ming Tombs in the outskirts of Beijing.
The excavation just concluded in Zhongxiang, which is located some 200 kilometers from Wuhan, capital of Hubei Province, revealed some 5,100 precious funerary objects with over 10 kilograms of gold articles and 3,400 pieces of jewelry.
The relics are so perfectly preserved that they still gleam like new.
Underground water can be seen in some spots in the tomb, which is not equipped with drainage systems like most other royal Ming tombs.
China has only opened one of the 13 Ming tombs in Beijing for archeological excavation. That project, in 1956, kicked off the country's first large-scale Ming tomb archeological research. The site has become one of the most popular tourist spots in the national capital.
Zhongxiang has been known as a granary for over 2,000 years. It was designated as one of China's cities of historical and cultural values in 1994, and was included on the World Heritage List in 2000.
According to Jiang Changzhong, director of the culture department of the Hubei provincial government, the tomb's occupant, Prince Liangzhuang, was the ninth son of Emperor Renzong. The prince died of illness in 1441. His princess was entombed with him 10 years after his death.
Five gem-covered crowns were unearthed from the tomb. The largest is 4.8 centimeters high and 5.2 centimeters in diameter, and is inlaid with nine precious stones of different colors.
(People's Daily February 21, 2002)