|12 February 2005
Tomb raiders beat experts to ancient Chinese vault
Chinese archaeologists have unearthed a rare 2 000-year-old tomb in China only to find nothing left in the main chamber but a modern pair of gloves. The tomb in Xi'an, the imperial capital of the Han Dynasty which ruled between 206 BCE and 220 CE, is approached by a long path dug 11 metres underground and sheathed with sand walls. But when excited archaeologists entered the main chamber they found robbers had beaten them to it. "Robbers figured out how to sneak into the tomb by digging up from below," said Xiao Jianyi, an archaeologist with the Shaanxi Provincial Relics and Archaeology Institute. "Nothing is left inside the main chamber, except a pair of modern gloves."
Much of China's cultural heritage is fast disappearing with ancient sites regularly damaged or destroyed for relics which are smuggled overseas to meet booming demand. Despite their disappointment in the main chamber, archaeologists discovered two side chambers intact. Rare pieces of China were discovered in one, including five vessels believed to be wine glasses. In the other, large quantities of lacquer and bronzeware were found. The tomb belonged to a high-ranking aristocrat.
Source: Iol.co.za (10 February 2005)
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