2,000 ancient tombs unearthed in Beijing construction site

Over 2,000 ancient tombs from various historical periods have been unearthed at construction sites for Beijing’s new subsidiary administrative center in Tongzhou District.

2,000 ancient tombs unearthed in Beijing construction site
An archaeological excavation site in Tongzhou [Credit: Xinhua]

Since 2014, Beijing implemented measures to protect underground cultural relics, and any construction site over 20,000 square meters outside the old city center of Beijing must undergo archaeological survey before construction starts.

The construction site for the sub-center is located near the Dongxiayuan subway station, and the archaeological survey of the area covers about 15 square kilometers. According to the company in charge of archaeological survey, the exploration work for underground cultural relics is halfway complete, and the unearthed tombs so far include one from the Tang Dynasty (618-907) with high archaeological value and one from the Liao-Jin Dynasties (907-1234) that is the most well-preserved of its period to date.

2,000 ancient tombs unearthed in Beijing construction site
Pottery and ceramics recently unearthed in Tongzhou [Credit: Xinhua]

Zhang Yan, an architectural engineer coordinating the archaeological survey and overseeing the site’s safety, said he was surprised by the amount and variety of the unearthed cultural relics. He said that in order to keep up with the construction schedule, the archaeologists have to probe and examine thousands of square meters every day. Even before any archaeological work can be conducted, construction workers must clear away garbage and debris and dig one-meter-deep pits, Zhang said.

One of the Tang Dynasty tombs discovered in the construction area for utility tunnels is found to belong to Ai Yan, the magistrate of Lu County in Youzhou, a prefecture in ancient China. Another larger Tang Dynasty tomb, excavated on the west side of Song Liang Road, appears to belong to an imperial counsellor in Youzhou.

2,000 ancient tombs unearthed in Beijing construction site
A multi-chamber burial site dating back to the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220) unearthed in Tongzhou District, Beijing 
[Credit: Beijing Cultural Relics Research Institute]

What exhilarated the archaeologists was a Liao-Jin Dyanasty tomb that they said is the best preserved of its period up to date, whose ceiling collapsed. The inner walls of the coffin chamber were decorated with colorful bricks and embossed with lifelike patterns of tables, chairs, and utensils.

The unearthed tombs will be moved out of their original site in order to protect the cultural relics and minimize changes to the construction plan. The Tang Dynasty tomb of Ai Yan will be moved entirely by30 meters to the north. The Liao-Jin Dynasty tomb has been enclosed in a steel box and transported by cranes to a temporary site. It is saved for later exhibitions at a special preservation area.

Source: China.org [September 04, 2017]

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