Shangye Street Boat-coffins
ual discoveries occur, the existence of an independent script will be confirmed, and the symbols will eventually be decipherable. It may be that the secrets behind the boat-coffins and the Kaiming Dynasty are concealed within these petite seals.
The coffins and burial items unearthed at the Yanjinggou site have regularly been transported to the Chengdu Cultural Relics Conservation Center for repair and protection. In the center’s warehouse are also some huge boat-coffins that were discovered in Shangye Street, a site located in modern- day Chengdu’s commercial district. Each coffin undergoes desalination, dehydration, drying, repair and other processes, and eventually is displayed in the museum. Each step requires one to two years. During the drying process, Bai Yulong and his colleagues employ hot air-flow convection in order to maintain stable temperature and humidity levels. This period also requires that these massive creatures be weighed regularly, out of concern they will excessively “slim down” or “fatten up.”
The discovery of Shangye Street’s boat-coffins occurred on July 29, 2000. Late that night, while digging the canteen site of the Sichuan Provincial Party Committee’s compound, workers uncovered several massive sections of ebony. They intended to use axes to sever it and continue their dig, but they discovered that it was hollow, and some shiny items of lacquerware were barely visible. Hearing the news, archaeol-