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Secrets of Zhou Dynasty to be revealed by unearthed tomb in Nanyang

Updated: Jan 3, 2018 Print
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A tomb in Yahe New Area, Nanyang, has been confirmed as one dating back to the Warring States Period (475 AC-221 BC), according to test results from the archaeological laboratory of University of Science and Technology of China.

The sample of carbonaceous material from the tomb was sent to an American test institution earlier in the year. The results showed that the tomb was built more than 2,300 years ago, which is consistent with the time of Prince Chao's death.

Prince Chao was the eldest son of King Jing of the Zhou Dynasty (1046 AC-256 BC), who took a great number of ancient books and records on his way to seek shelter from the State of Chu due to a civil war after his father's death, according to Zuo Zhuan, the first detailed historical annual in China.

Huang Lan, a royal classic compiled by Wei Shi during the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280), recorded that Prince Chao didn't make it to the State of Chu. Having settled down half way, he died in Xiyue county of Nanyang, known today as Yahe New Area.

With his death, the ancient books and records also disappeared mysteriously. The existing historic books did not specify the whereabouts of the books. But later studies suggest that these books are most likely to be buried with him.


A stone founded in the surrounding area of the tomb is carved with unidentified patterns. [Photo/Nanyang Evening Post]

The tomb in the Yahe New Area was first discovered because of a grave robbing, which was reported to the police by locals. After learning the news, the authorities stepped in quickly and sent out experts to investigate the stolen tomb.

After the research of relevant departments, the tomb was identified as a large-scale rectangular earthen tomb taking the shape of Chinese character "甲". The coffin chamber was 40 meters long and 38 meters wide, with a depth of about 18 meters.

The commonly held assumption is that the person buried in the tomb is Prince Chao, as the location of the tomb is consistent with the description in historical records and both its scale and design correspond with his identity as a prince. The test results from the American institution further reinforced that belief.

To get closer to the truth, a strategic cooperative agreement was signed between the local government and the University of Science and Technology of China. More samples of the tomb will be sent to the university's archaeological laboratory for further studies.

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