• We have updated the guidelines regarding posting political content: please see the stickied thread on Website Issues.

Ancient China: Tombs & Burial Grounds


Gone But Not Forgotten
Jun 2, 2002
Reward offered to solve riddle of ancient cliff tombs
Updated: 2004-09-25 01:19

Management of a famous Taoist mountain in east China's Jiangxi Province has offered to pay 400,000 yuan (US,000) to anyone who can give a convincing explanation of how tombs were built on its steep cliffs more than 2,600 years ago.

The cliff tombs, containing more than 200 ancient wooden coffins, are one of the three geological and cultural legacies of Longhu Mountain, or Tiger and Dragon Mountain, in Yingtan city of the central-eastern province. The other two wonders are its wide variety of landforms and rich Taoism culture.

An archeological worker in Jiangxi Province dug into 18 of the ancient tombs in the 1970s. He excavated 37 coffins and sacrificial projects dating back to the Eastern Zhou dynasty, at least 2,600 years ago.

No one has been able to determine how the tombs were built, though the management of Longhu Mountain tourist zone previously offered 300,000 yuan (some US,000) in 1997 to anyone who could give a plausible answer.

The move aroused public interest, and nearly 10,000 scholars, expeditioners and others came up with various hypotheses.

Some said the tombs had not been built there, but had gradually risen to higher altitude as a result of geological changes or the rise and fall of floods.

Others, however, said the ancient people had built the tombs in the mountains on purpose, with hopes that the burial ground of their ancestors would never be damaged. Some even boldly imagined that the ancient men had worked out a primitive form of scaffold for the construction.

Management of Longhu Mountain has decided to offer an even higher reward in order to draw more convincing explanations.

Longhu Mountain, some 16 km outside Yingtan, is a foothold of Taoism. It used to be the residence of Zhang Tianshi, who founded Zhengyi sect, a major division of Taoism.

The mountain was put under special protection by the Chinese government in 1983 and was listed as one of China's first 11 national geological parks in 2000.
Chinese Archaeologists Find Ancient Tombs

Chinese Archaeologists Find Ancient Tombs
Mon Oct 17,11:31 PM ET

Archaeologists have unearthed a 1,700-year-old complex of tombs in eastern China that contain bronze mirrors, porcelains and ancient money, a news report said Tuesday.

The tombs near the port city of Ningbo were uncovered by a forklift operator working at a construction site, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. The report didn't say who was buried in the tombs or how many bodies had been found.

Inscriptions in the tombs indicate they were built in 256 A.D., the report said, citing Ding Youfu, a member of the archaeological team. He said they were the region's best-preserved tombs.

"Figures embodying fish, beasts, dragons, phoenixes and money can be seen in the wall of the grave," Ding said. "They are incredibly refined and clearcut."

Archaeologists plan to excavate an area of 50,000 square feet around the main tomb and expect to find at least five other tombs, said Xie Guoqi, another member of the team.

Not strictly a tomb, but an amazing Monastery:


The monastery dates back over 1400 years to the Northern Wei Dynasty. However, most of what you see today are reconstructions made during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) Dynasties.

The caves behind the pavilions contain religious statues. One cave room has the statues of Buddha, Confucius and Laotsu comfortably sitting side by side. This is noteworthy because simultaneously advocating Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism was rare in ancient China.

The pavilions are constructed almost entirely of wood (except for the decorative multi-hued roof tiles).

Narrow, thin railed skyways connect the pavilions.

The pavilions "hang" partially because long timber poles support them from underneath (see photo). However, the greatest structural support comes from unseen rock ledges upon which parts of the pavilions sit - and from the cantilevered wooden beams deeply imbedded into the cliff.

The Chinese name of the Hanging Monastery is Xuankong.

The monastery is also known as the Hengshan Hanging Monastery. It gets its "Hengshan" descriptive because it is located at the foot of Mount Heng (Hengshan), one of the five holy Taoist mountains of China.

Location:The Hanging Monastery is in Shanxi province - and is about 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Datong city, which is about 300 kilometers (180 miles) west of Beijing.

Curiosity: The pavilion on the right in the photo is the equivalent of 15 stories above the ground.
Long time ago making long heads

Ancient tombs in China have produced what may be some of the oldest known human skulls to be intentionally reshaped.

At a site called Houtaomuga, scientists unearthed 25 skeletons dating to between around 12,000 years ago and 5,000 years ago. Of those, 11 featured skulls with artificially elongated braincases and flattened bones at the front and back of the head, says a team led by bioarchaeologist Quanchao Zhang and paleoanthropologist Qian Wang.

Skull modification occurred over a longer stretch of time at the site than at any other archaeological dig, the researchers report online June 25 in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.


AUGUST 16, 2020

Right on cue for soup season, archaeologists have found a 3,100-year-old tomb lined with what are believed to be bronze soup bowls in Shaanxi province, China, according to Live Science.

All those bowls might have been in service of the decomposed, unidentified corpse archaeologists also found in the tomb.

Along with the bowls and the body, Live Science reports, archaeologists found a “four-handled tureen” decorated with dragons, birds and 192 spikes. There are also a few bovine heads thrown in, for good measure.

“The occupant of Tomb M4 was most likely of elite status, and could potentially be a high-ranking chief or the spouse of a chief,” Live Science reported the translation of the original Chinese journal article as reading.


Chinese archaeologists find first complete panda burial in 2,000-year-old Han dynasty tomb

The giant panda is thought to have been sacrificed to accompany the emperor Emperor Wen, who reigned from 180 to 157 BCE, into the afterlife.

The animal’s remains were lying in a satellite pit, with its head facing in the direction of the tomb.

The tomb is in the modern day city of Xian in Shaanxi province, once the capital of China.

Hu Songmei, an archaeologist at the Shaanxi Academy of Archaeology, said this was the first time that a complete panda skeleton had been found in an emperor’s tomb.


maximus otter
Last edited:
It might even have a comatose giant panda ready to awaken and devour any tomb raiders.

Archaeologists are too scared to open up the 2,200-year-old tomb of China's first emperor Qin Shi Huang because they fear it might harbor deadly booby traps.

The mausoleum of the emperor, who ruled from 221 to 210 BCE, is located in Lintong District, Xi'an, Shaanxi. It is guarded by the iconic Terracotta Army, sculptures meant to protect him in the afterlife.

While parts of the necropolis have been explored, the tomb itself has never been opened due to fears of what might be inside.

Ancient Chinese historian Sima Qian wrote an account around 100 years after the emperor's death about possible booby traps inside the tomb.

"Craftsmen were ordered to make crossbows and arrows primed to shoot at anyone who enters the tomb. Mercury was used to simulate the hundred rivers, the Yangtze and Yellow River, and the great sea, and set to flow mechanically," the text reads, per IFL Science.

While some scientists dismiss the accounts as being fantastical, a 2020 study found that mercury concentrations around the tomb are at significantly higher levels than to be expected.

Nope. Archaeology is destruction.

They will use non intrusive study first.
Interesting calendar find in ancient tomb.

Archaeologists in China have unearthed a mysterious set of rectangular wooden pieces linked to an ancient astronomical calendar. The artifacts were discovered inside an exceptionally well-preserved 2,000-year-old tomb in the southwest of the country.

Each of the 23 wooden slips is about an inch (2.5 centimeters) wide and 4 inches (10 cm) long and displays a Chinese character related to the Tiangan Dizhi, or "Ten Heavenly Stems and 12 Earthly Branches" — a traditional Chinese astronomical calendar established during the Shang dynasty, which ruled from about 1600 B.C. to about 1045 B.C.

Archaeologists think one of the slips may have represented whatever was the current year and that the other 22 slips could have been used to specify any particular year in the ancient calendar, according to a translation of a story on the China News website, an agency run by the Chinese government. ...