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Western Han Dynasty Tomb Identified in Northwest China

Friday, December 17, 2021

SHAANXI PROVINCE, CHINA—China Daily reports that researchers from China’s National Cultural Heritage Administration have determined that a tomb discovered in 2006 belonged to Liu Heng, the third emperor of the Western Han Dynasty, who ruled from 203 to 157 B.C. The mausoleum, called Baling in ancient documents, is surrounded by more than 110 burial pits. Although only eight of the pits have been excavated, according to Ma Yongying of the Shaanxi Academy of Archaeology, more than 1,000 ceramic figurines have been recovered. Decorations for horses and chariots made of bronze, and seals used by Western Han officials were also found. “It showed these pits may mimic an entire system of government,” Ma said. “The emperor wanted to rule his country even in the underworld.” The tomb was difficult to find, Ma added, because the emperor, who was known for his frugality, had not had a towering mound erected over his burial. Other tombs near this central, grand tomb have been identified as the burials of Liu Heng’s empress and his mother, Ma explained. To read about bronze mirrors found in Western Han Dynasty burials, go to "Mirror, Mirror."

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