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17 January 2004
Archeologists baffled by ancient bamboo slips

Archeologists declared they found no written records on over 1,000 ancient bamboo slips which recently unearthed in Jiuliandun Tombs in central China's Hubei Province. The archeologists said this is the first time for them to find wordless ancient bamboo slips.
     Ancient Chinese wrote their records on bamboo slips, which usually provide more direct information than other cultural relics. The slips were expected to provide new information on politics, economics, culture, art or religion of that time when first excavated. Instead of words on the yellow (or inner) sides of bamboo, pictures of black lacquer appeared on the green (or outer) sides of bamboo, said Wang Hongxing, director of Hubei Provincial Archaeological Research Institute.
     The cache from the Jiuliandun Tombs in Zaoyang City is the largest yet found from the Chu State which dates back to the Warring States Period (475 BCE-221 BCE), said Wang. Archeologists have taken photos of the slip pictures and will try to explore possible information hidden in the paintings, said Wang. Excavations began in September and ended in late December in 2002 after archaeologists hit upon a tomb when making a survey along the planned route of an expressway in central China's Hubei Province.
     The legend of a great general who died at the battlefield had been passed down through generations along the Gunhe River in Hubei Province. It was said that nine tombs were built and his body was placed in one of them. The survey showed a ridge beside the river and nine tombs were subsequently found. Besides bamboo slips, the tombs also yielded bronze battle carts and horses, musical instruments, household articles, and wooden sacrificial vessels.

Source: China Daily (13 January 2004)

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