Hai­hun­hou tomb ex­ca­va­tion con­cludes with valu­able his­tor­i­cal dis­cov­er­ies

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By BINAN binan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The ex­ca­va­tion of the Mar­quis of Hai­hun tomb in Jiangxi prov­ince has yielded thou­sands of valu­able his­tor­i­cal relics.

The Hai­hun­hou tomb is the best-pre­served ceme­tery from the West­ern Han Dy­nasty (206 BC-AD 24), with the most in­te­grated struc­ture and a dis­tinct lay­out.

After five years of ex­ca­va­tion, more than 10,000 precious relics have been un­earthed, in­clud­ing bronze, gold, sil­ver and jade wares, bam­boo slips and in­scribed wooden tablets.

“Ar­chae­ol­o­gists and cul­tural relic con­ser­va­tion ex­perts are clean­ing the sludge that has cov­ered the items for over 2,000 years to ob­tain more his­tor­i­cal in­for­ma­tion. They are also restor­ing the bro­ken ce­ram­ics and bronzes to show­case to the pub­lic,” said Chi Hong, head of Jiangxi’s Depart­ment of Cul­ture.

The tomb be­longs to Liu He (92 BC-59 BC), who was de­throned after 27 days— the short­est reign among West­ern Han mon­archs— be­cause of his de­bauch­ery and li­cen­tious life­style.

Nev­er­the­less, he was al­lowed to re­side near Poyang Lake and was given the ti­tle of mar­quis, a ti­tle that re­mained with his fam­ily for three gen­er­a­tions.

The main cof­fin has been cleaned, and Liu’s re­mains can vaguely be seen in the in­ner cof­fin, with gilded lac­quer boxes that are typ­i­cally buried with the dead. A pil­low, pen­dant, sword and other items all made with jade can be seen, as well as a jade seal with the name “Liu He” at the waist.

The re­mains are on a gilded glass mat, with 100 pieces of gold disc un­der the glass mat.

So far, 478 gold ar­ti­facts have been un­earthed from the tomb, the largest in China’s archaeological his­tory. Through anal­y­sis of X-ray imag­ing, del­i­cate agate beads, gilded bronze boxes and jade-dec­o­rated bronze plaques were also dis­cov­ered in the cof­fin.

After painstak­ing work, ar­chae­ol­o­gists suc­cess­fully cleaned more than 5,000 bam­boo slips, and in­frared scan­ning al­lows the dimmed hand­writ­ing to be read. An ini­tial in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the slips shows con­tents from an­cient books such as The Analects of Con­fu­cius, The Book of Changes and The Book of Rites.

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