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23 July 2005
Ancient stone-coffin tombs discovered in Sichuan

Archaeologists discovered more than 20 ancient tombs with stone coffins dating back nearly 2,800 years ago in southwestern China's Sichuan province. The discovery of stone coffins, first of its kind in the region, proved other ethnic groups also lived in the area before as Tibetan seldom use stone coffins for burial, said Chen Zujun, an expert from the provincial archaeological research institute. "Traditionally, Tibetan choose water burial, inhumation, cremation, or open-sky burial and the coffins they used are usually made of wood instead of stone," said Chen. In addition, Tibetan in Garze usually use a special rope made of cowhide to bind the bodies into the shape of a fetus and seal the body's eyes, nose, and mouth with butter, said Chen.
     The coffins were about 1.8 meters long and one to 1.5 meters wide and the coffin cover is made up of three to five pieces of stone slate. "They are quite similar to the stone coffins of the ancient Qiang people, a nomadic tribe used to live in the current northwestern part of China more than 3,000 years ago, which werealso found the valleys of the Yalong River, Minjiang River and Jinsha River in Sichuan," said Chen. "The coffin owners may be from a branch of the tribe, which moved from the north," he said, adding they also found 140 articles of cultural relics, including stoneware, bronze wares and potteries, which proved the tombs made up a cemetery of a tribe relying on handicraft industry.

Source: China View (19 July 2005)

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