|24 March 2005
4,000 year old cemetery found in Chinese sand dune
Archaeologists working in the remote deserts of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in China have have uncovered an ancient burial site in a huge sand dune.
The site was first discovered by the Swedish explorer Folke Bergman in 1934 as he travelled south along a river in Lop Nur Desert in the eastern part of Xinjiang. He kept a diary of his journey which was translated by Chinese sociologists in the late 1990s. This led the State Administration of Cultural Heritage to launch a search for the site, and excavation was approved in 2003.
Since then, the team of archaeologists from the Xinjiang Cultural Relics and Archaeology Institute have uncovered 163 tombs containing mummies at the Xiaohe tomb complex.
Idelisi Abuduresule, head of the excavation team, said "Most of the items are in the original state of the time when they were buried, and that will help reveal a lot of information about the society and life style of the people of that time."
The complex is believed to house around 330 tombs, and may have been the burial site of the mysterious Loulan Kingdom, which disappeared into the mists of history around 1500 years ago. As well as the more traditional burials, coffins containing wooden figures wrapped in leather in place of bodies were found.
Above each coffin, two thick wooden stakes protrude from the dune, which some believe was an ancient symbol of worship.
Idelisi added "Considering the scale of the burial site and the mysterious cultural signs, the analyses of the relics are going to yield some exciting results."
Source: China Daily (19 March 2005)
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