Oc­cu­pant of royal tomb iden­ti­fied

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By SHI XIAOFENG and WANG KAIHAO in Bei­jing

The iden­tity of the oc­cu­pant of a prom­i­nent an­cient royal tomb has been con­firmed, ar­chae­ol­o­gists said in Bei­jing on Wed­nes­day.

The tomb in Nan­chang, the cap­i­tal of Jiangxi prov­ince, which dates to the Western Han Dy­nasty (206 BC-AD 24), is that of Liu He, the first of four gen­er­a­tions to hold the ti­tle Mar­quis Hai­hun, re­searchers said.

He was also a de­throned em­peror whose reign lasted just 27 days.

Un­earthed relics had helped greatly with the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, said Xin Lix­i­ang, head of an ex­pert panel from the State Ad­min­is­tra­tion of Cul­tural Her­itage.

Xin said three items had been par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant.

“A per­sonal jade seal with Liu’s full name found in­side the in­ner cof­fin along­side his re­mains was the cru­cial iden­ti­fier,” Xin said. “The dis­cov­ery of a let­ter by Liu to the em­peror writ­ten on a

bam­boo slip and his name writ­ten in ink on gold in­gots also reaf­firmed the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion.”

The iden­ti­fi­ca­tion re­sult was an­nounced at the open­ing cer­e­mony of an ex­hi­bi­tion at the Cap­i­tal Mu­seum in Bei­jing, which fea­tures more than 400 re­cently un­earthed Mar­quisHai­hun cul­tural relics.

Xin said the jade seal is not among the items on dis­play, as it is be­ing cleaned. “We also found sev­eral ex­tremely del­i­cate lacquer con­tain­ers along­side Li­uHe’s re­mains that held jade­ware,” Xin added.

About 10,000 cul­tural relics, in­clud­ing lac­quer­ware, bronze and jade ar­ti­facts, have been un­earthed at the 40,000square-me­ter grave site since the ar­chae­o­log­i­cal pro­ject be­gan in 2011. More than 280 gold in­gots and discs as well as 2 mil­lion cop­per coins have been ex­ca­vated.

The ex­hi­bi­tion will run un­til June 2.

Only 1,000 vis­i­tors are al­lowed each day un­til March 18. Af­ter this, the quota will rise to 5,000. All quo­tas in the first week have been re­served.

Xu Changqing, di­rec­tor of the Jiangxi Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal Re­search In­sti­tu­tion, said the 3,000 well-pre­served bam­boo slips and nearly 100 wood pan­els hold im­por­tant his­tor­i­cal clues. “It will take per­haps 10 years to de­code the in­for­ma­tion to gain a clear un­der­stand­ing of the so­cial struc­ture, rituals and folk­lore at that time,” he said.

“We aim to have the relics in­cluded in a UNESCO World Cul­tur­alHer­itage site.”

Yang Dan­dan, spokesman for the Cap­i­tal Mu­seum, said no lac­quer­ware or bam­boo slips are be­ing ex­hib­ited due to the need to pre­serve them.

In the Book of Han, an of­fi­cial chrono­log­i­cal his­tory com­piled in the first cen­tury AD, Liu was de­scribed as a de­bauched man with a li­cen­tious life­style.

“Per­haps this is an ex­ag­ger­a­tion be­cause his­tory is of­ten writ­ten by win­ners,” Xu said. “Af­ter fail­ing in political con­flicts, it was only nat­u­ral that Liu would at­tract a de­gree of no­to­ri­ety. Judg­ing from our find­ings, Liu ap­pears to have been a man with well-cul­ti­vated and wide in­ter­ests.”

For ex­am­ple, a rough ex­am­i­na­tion of bronze­ware ex­ca­vated from Liu’s tomb showed it was pro­duced in ear­lier dy­nas­ties. Al­though most of it was col­lected by his father, the find­ings pos­si­bly in­di­cate that Liu also col­lected an­tique relics.

Lei Xiaoxun this story.


Con­tact the writ­ers at wangkai­hao@chi­nadaily.com.cn



A set of an­cient chime bells is dis­played at the Cap­i­tal Mu­seum in Bei­jing on Wed­nes­day.


Clock­wise from left: A jade jianzhi (scab­bard ac­ces­sory), a coiled jade long (Chi­nese dragon), a jade pen­dant and a de­sign from the Western Han Dy­nasty (206 BC-AD 24) were on dis­play at the Cap­i­tal Mu­seum in Bei­jing on Wed­nes­day.

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