Latest finding seals ownership of 2,000-yr-old Chinese tomb

Updated: 2015-12-09 20:27


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NANCHANG - Several ancient cauldrons have been found in the tomb of the Marquis of Haihun, confirming beliefs the tomb belongs to a deposed emperor from the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC - 24 AD),archaeologists announced on Wednesday.

Nine ding, or ancient cauldrons, were found during the latest excavation into the tomb of "Haihunhou" (Marquis of Haihun) in East China's Jiangxi province, said Yang Jun, who led the archaeological project.

"The number nine was only used by Chinese emperors in early feudal times, and it is common for tombs of emperors to be called 'nine-ding tombs'," said Yang.

"Such traditions were relaxed before the Western Han Dynasty, but a set of nine dings is strong testament to the tomb owner's high status," he said.

Archaeologists believe the tomb belongs to Liu He, grandson of Emperor Wu. He was given the title "Haihunhou" after he was deposed as emperor after only 27 days. Haihun is the ancient name of a very small kingdom in the north of Jiangxi.

"It's not possible for other generations of the Haihun marquis to have nine dings as burial items. Liu He is different because he was an emperor," Yang said.

Three fractured and deformed dings have been removed from the tomb and six remain.

Yang said the cauldrons may have been used by the aristocrat to treat guests, as they were placed near other dinner ware including a bronze liquor kettle and stoves. But others said the ding were commonly used for rituals.

The main coffin of the tomb will be opened next Saturday, said Yang.

Researchers are still working through the main chamber of the tomb in the Haihunhou cemetery, the most complete known Western Han Dynasty cemetery. It covers roughly 40,000 square meters and contains eight tombs and a burial site for horses used to pull chariots.

Artifacts unearthed so far include a portrait of Confucius, nearly 3,000 wooden tablets and bamboo slips, and a large number of bronze, gold and jade items.