'Well-preserved' Han Dynasty cliff tomb found in Chongqing
Published: May 17, 2023 12:27 AM
Photo: China News Service

Photo: China News Service

A "very well-preserved" cliff tomb dating back to the Han Dynasty (206BC-AD220) was found recently in Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, a city famously built in the mountains.

Archaeologists found a total of 56 cultural relics, including iron swords, figurines of servants and animals, and bricks decorated with Chinese characters, in Chongqing's Jiangbei district, according to the report from on Monday.

Local archaeologists noted that it was in fact "very rare" to find a cliff tomb that had not been damaged by theft. 

The tomb is in good condition that archaeologists have been able to see the original appearance of a Han tomb, right down to where each object was placed, noted Wang Wei, head of the excavation mission.

"[The completeness of] the tomb means it has much higher historical value for experts, especially when it comes to studying the unique burial culture of the Han Dynasty," Jing Shen, a Chongqing-based cultural expert, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

During the Han Dynasty, grand funerals were very popular among those that could afford them. 

"The paintings on the tomb bricks are extremely expressive, especially the description of the afterlife," added Jing.

The tomb consists of a drainage passage, a sealed door, a corridor and a tomb chamber. 

This is not the first time a Han tomb has been discovered in Chongqing. 

In 2015, four tombs spanning a period of 100 years were also found in the Jiangbei district at a construction site near a primary school.

Inside the unearthed tombs, a large number of daily use pottery wares were found, as well as wine glasses, jugs and bowls placed around the tomb to create a banquet scene.

Local archaeologists said at the time that the owner of the tomb may have been a landowner, similar to the current middle class.

In 2010, Han Dynasty tombs were also discovered in the main urban area of Chongqing. Experts believe that the discovery of these tombs shows that this area was once a prosperous region with a large population during the Han Dynasty.

"During the Han Dynasty, Chongqing was distant from the capital city in the northern part of China. Excavations reveal the prosperity of this southwestern region, though distant from the political center of the time," said Jing.