3,648 tombs spanning over 2,200 years found in NW China city
Published: Dec 12, 2021 04:28 PM
Archaeologists have excavated 3,648 ancient tombs spanning more than 2,200 years of history in Xianyang in Northwest China's Shaanxi Province.

The provincial cultural relics bureau said Thursday that multiple clusters of family cemeteries from the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220) to the Tang Dynasty (618-907), including tombs of historical figures recorded in biographies, were found during the latest excavation in the Weicheng district of Xianyang.

The excavation site is located in the north of the ancient capital of the Han (206BC-AD220) and Tang (618-907) dynasties, Chang'an, which is today's Xi'an.

The burial area holds royal relatives, senior officials and dignitaries recorded in the annals of Han and Tang dynasties. Among them, a younger male cousin of Tang Dynasty Emperor Xuanzong and an elder male cousin of Wu Zetian, China's only female emperor, were buried in the area, said Li Ming, a researcher with Shaanxi Academy of Archaeology.

However, with the onset of the Song (960-1279), Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, the area was more often used as a graveyard for ordinary people. More than 16,000 pieces of relics were found during the excavation of more than one year.

This is the first time that so many tombs have been excavated from the same cemetery, spanning such a long period of time, with such distinguished tomb owners, Li noted.

The discoveries are expected to be valuable materials for the study of Chinese funeral rites, Li said.