Retrieving history from the past

Updated: May 23, 2024 By Wang Ru CHINA DAILY Print
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A wooden figurine's head. CHINA DAILY

The chambers are particularly large, Gong says, adding that any one of the nine chambers, if discovered in a single Chu tomb, would be categorized as at least medium-sized.

The side chambers contain funerary objects such as bronze vessels, wooden figurines and musical instruments, and it is presumed that the tomb's occupant rests within the central chamber. Gong says that archaeologists are currently retrieving the funerary objects from the side chambers before they proceed to open the central chamber.

The chambers are covered in four layers of planks, some of which bear ink inscriptions. Archaeologists have carefully identified nearly 1,000 words using infrared cameras, and believe they are typical examples of the Chu language.

"The planks have been buried for a very long time in a water-saturated environment, causing them to turn black. Soil and pollutants have made it even more difficult to recognize the inscriptions. As a result, we can only see them clearly using infrared equipment," Gong says.

Some of the words have been deciphered, shedding light on the function of the chambers. For instance, in a northern chamber adorned with words related to music, instruments and dancing figurines have been discovered. Many more inscriptions are yet to be explained, promising further insights in the future.

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