Archeologists have uncovered a tomb containing the skeletons of sacrificial horses near the burial ground of a prominent duke who lived more than 2,500 years ago in northwestern Shaanxi Province.
Researchers with the provincial institute of archeology have found the tomb close to the No. 1 Tomb of Duke Jinggong (577 BC - 537 BC) of the Qin State in Fengxiang County, 170 km west of the provincial capital Xi'an.
The sacrificial tomb in the shape of an upside-down letter T is 87 meters long, 24.6 meters wide and 14.5 meters deep, said Tian Yaqi, head of the excavation team.
Tian and his colleagues have found 30 sacrificial objects and several horse skeletons.
"We're convinced this is an accessory of the duke's tomb because the relics we've found are exactly the same in terms of shape, quality and workmanship," said Tian.
The No. 1 Tomb of Duke Jinggong was excavated between 1976 and 1986, during which time archaeologists found 3,500 valuable cultural relics, though it has been broken into by thieves and robbers more than 200 times.
Its funeral chamber, 24 meters from the surface, 16 meters long, 5.7 meters wide and 4.2 meters high, was separated by a wooden partition into two parts. The chamber to the east was designed in imitation of the duke's office and rear chamber to the west as his dining room.
A dozen elegantly cast iron shovels found in the tomb show the highly developed iron-smelting techniques of the Qin State in ancient north China.
Fengxiang County is home to a graveyard where 17 other Qin dukes are at rest.
(Xinhua News Agency January 13, 2004)