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Rare Tombs of Tang Dynasty Unearthed in Sichuan

Chinese archeologists have unearthed two skeletons and over 1,000 ancient coins from five tombs of the Tang Dynasty (618-907) in Sichuan Province, southwest China.

The tombs, with well-preserved outer coffins inside that were built of stone, were found in early March at a construction site in Mianyang City and excavation work was completed last week, said Song Jianmin, head of the city's archeological team.

He said the two skeletons, which were unearthed from two of the five tombs, had remained intact, but the inner wooden coffins have decayed over the years.

A jar full of ancient coins was found close to a smaller tomb that was only about one meter long, said Song.

"Some of the coins were from the Sui Dynasty (581-618) and more than 1,000 of them were from the succeeding Tang Dynasty," he said.

According to Song, all the Tang Dynasty coins were ingrained "Kaiyuan Treasury", which stood for the 713-742 period under the reign of Emperor Xuan Zong.

Song and his colleagues have carefully shipped the two skeletons along with the outer stone coffins to the municipal museum for further studies. "We have covered the skeletons with rice paper and fixed the paper with plaster on top to avoid damages on the way," said Zhou Kehua, a member of the archeological team.

Zhou said the five tombs belonged to a family of the late Tang Dynasty. "Tombs of the Tang Dynasty are rarely found in China, though it was one of the most prosperous periods in the Chinese history."

Scientists planned to use DNA technology to confirm the age and social status of the owners of the tombs, Zhou revealed. "We might even find out the cause of their deaths."
(Xinhua News Agency March 30, 2004)

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