Dig unearths 2,400-year-old hopdcorp comrses, chariots

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ZHENGZHOU - Archaeologists in Henan province have excavated a pit containing chariots and skeletons of horses, perhaps 2,400 years old, beside a tomb possibly belonging to a lord.

The so-called No 3 Horse and Chariot Pit is one of a cluster of tombs belonging to nobility of the Zheng State, a vassal state during the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods (770-221 BC), near Xinzheng.

Since February, four chariots and 90 horse skeletons have been unearthed from the largest of three clustered pits that have been excavated so far.

The total number of horses buried may exceed 100, according to Ma Juncai of the Henan Cultural Heritage and Archaeology Institute, who led the excavation.

"As the main tomb has been looted and no written records have been found, it is difficult to identify the tomb owner," he said, adding it may belong to a lord from the late Spring and Autumn Period judging from the size of the tomb and the items found inside.

Bronze artifacts have also been discovered in the pit, which Ma said provides important information on the technology, production methods, social status system and funeral practices of the period.

Ma said he believes the chariots were for the daily use of a lord and his wife.

One of the chariots is significantly larger and more extravagant than the others. Measuring 2.56 meters long and 1.66 meters wide, it is equipped with rain and sun protection, and decorated with bronze and bone artifacts.

Li Hongchang, director of the Zheng State Horse and Chariot Pit tourist site, said it is believed to have been customary during the period for horses to be killed and placed in a pit beside the owner"s tomb, with dismantled chariots added on top.

Excavations of the tombs and the surrounding 20 hectares of land so far have found 18 large pits containing horse remains and chariots, as well as more than 3,000 tombs.

Xinhua

(China Daily 11/03/2017 page5)