Excavation and rectification of No.3 Mausoleum of Western Xia kings will be soon launched, The Western Xia Mausoleums, found by accident in 1972, enjoy a reputation as the "Pyramids in the Orient.” They cover a total area of 50 square km, containing tombs of nine kings and subordinate tombs of 253 imperial princes and court ministers. Through years of war, wind and sand erosion, flood and human destruction, they were now in dangerous situation.
This time, 11 ruins will be unearthed and rectified, covering 16,519 square meters. It will be a protective excavation on the largest scale since 1972. Experts believe the occupant of No.3 mausoleum might be Li Yuanhao (1004-1048), the first king of the Western Xia. Most archaeologists agree with the opinion, but it has yet to be proved. With the work done, the Western Xia Mausoleum will be unveiled comprehensively and systematically for the first time to the world.
Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji showed great concern over the protection of Western Xia Mausoleums. The State Planning Commission has appropriated 10 million yuan for the protection work.
The excavation will touch only building ruins on the ground, and not the underground palaces. By collecting and collating firsthand materials on overall building shape, structure, size and features of the mausoleum, later maintenance and protection work should be easier. The No.3 Mausoleum will provide important materials for the study of the tomb system and the overall society and history of the Western Xia Kingdom.
The idea that "researchers enjoy intellectual property rights over research achievements” was for the first time put forward during the excavation and recorded. Undoubtedly, this will exert positive influences on respecting knowledge and deepening archaeological reform.
Archaeological experts from the State Bureau of Cultural Relics will guide the work, and an archaeological team led by Cultural Relics and Archaeological Research Institute of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region has been set up. The field excavations will be completed next year.