Chinese archaeologists are preparing to open a 2,200-year-old, well-preserved coffin in Hubei Province that may contain large amounts of silk fabrics.
A detailed plan is being drawn up to open the coffin, excavated at the Xiejiaqiao No. 1 Tomb dating back to about 200 B.C.in Jingzhou City, said Yan Pin, director of the Jingzhou Cultural Heritage Bureau.
The coffin was transported to a storehouse in the Jingzhou City Museum where archaeologists will open it on Thursday if everything goes well, Yan told Xinhua.
Four layers of delicate and intricately designed silk cloth were found wrapped around the 2.46-meter-long coffin when it was excavated. Yan said it was rare to see such a well-preserved tomb in China.
Based on items recovered in the excavations that began on November 20, chances are high there will be large amounts of silk in the coffin, he said.
"But we have to be careful when opening it as silk with a history of 2,000 years can easily be carbonized when exposed to the air," Yuan said.
Workers are conducting preparatory work such as blocking out sunlight and sterilizing the warehouse for Thursday's opening.
The identity of the tomb's owner is still unknown.
(Xinhua News Agency November 28, 2007)