2,100-Year-Old Mausoleum in China Unearths Tombs of Buried Treasure

by Catharine Crandall on September 2nd, 2014   5578 views

The three main tombs and 11 attendant tombs contained more than 10,000 artifacts.

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The tomb of a Chinese ruler who died in 128 B.C. was recently excavated in Jiangsu, China. The 2,100-year-old mausoleum belonged to an extravagant king named Liu Fei who ruled over the Jiangdu Kingdom within the Chinese empire. According to historian Sima Qian, “his way of life was marked by extreme arrogance and luxury.”

That luxury apparently followed him to the grave as the burial complex was found stocked with artifacts, money, weapons and food. According to Live Science:

Although the mausoleum had been plundered, archaeologists found that it still contained more than 10,000 artifacts, including treasures made of gold, silver, bronze, jade and lacquer. They also found several life-sized chariots and dozens of smaller chariots.

The main tomb also contained over 100,000 coins, a collection of lamps and an entire kitchen full of cooking utensils and food. Ironically, one of the only things that wasn’t preserved was the king’s body and burial suit.

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Though a tomb adjacent to Liu Fei’s was looted, it still contained about 200 sets of “pottery vessels, lacquer wares, bronzes, gold and silver objects, and jades.” But significantly, the jade coffin in the tomb was still intact, making it the first undamaged jade coffin ever discovered in China.

But the extravagance doesn’t stop there.

In addition to the chariot models and weapons found in the king’s tomb, the mausoleum also contains two chariot-and-horse pits and two weapons pits holding swords, halberds, crossbow triggers and shields.

You never know when you might fight a war in the afterlife. In addition to the three main tombs, another 11 attendant tombs were unearthed, also laden with burial goods.

While the tomb was originally excavated between 2009 and 2011, the findings are just now being reported. It’s a pretty exciting discovery, giving archaeologists and historians alike a glimpse into Chinese cultural and burial practices of the era. Hopefully the artifacts recovered will be displayed in a museum so the rest of us will have a chance to see just what Liu Fei took to the grave.


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