Retrieving history from the past

Updated: May 23, 2024 By Wang Ru CHINA DAILY Print
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A bronze ding, an ancient Chinese cauldron, found at the site. JIANG DONG/CHINA DAILY

Every minute is precious when it comes to recovering these artifacts, and there is a plan to relocate all the most important items to laboratories before the arrival of summer's scorching heat since the high temperatures could harm the relics. The aim is to complete the entire project by the end of this year, with plans to create an archaeological park on the site in future, Gong Xicheng says.

Evolving from a remote barbarian regime to one of the seven leading states of the Warring States Period, at their zenith, the Chu ruled a vast area along the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River.

The influential state endured for nearly 800 years until its defeat by the Qin state in 223 BC. Just two years later, the Qin founded China's first unified dynasty.

According to Zhang Changping, an archaeology professor at Wuhan University, the tomb exhibits distinctive features commonly found in Chu tombs. "During the Warring States Period, different states had different cultural practices. Chu tombs possess their own unique features," Zhang says. "For instance, the tombs of ordinary people are often laid together, forming a large burial area, while those of the nobility are typically arranged in an independent manner."

The professor also highlights similarities between the tombs of nobles. "The tombs are commonly aligned in an east-west direction and have a tomb passage and multiple steps," he says.

"They often consist of several chambers, multiple coffins, and an abundance of funerary objects. Notably, they frequently include bronze artifacts in the style of the Western Zhou Dynasty, indicating the continuation of ritual systems from that era."

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