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Dragon Sculptures Uncovered in Western Han Dynasty Tomb

Friday, September 6, 2019

ZHENGZHOU, CHINA—Two gilded silver dragon figurines featuring detailed horns, eyes, teeth, and feathers have been discovered in a Western Han Dynasty (206 B.C.–A.D. 9) tomb in north-central Mongolia, according to a Xinhua report. The tomb is said to be one of 400 tombs in the cemetery belonging to Xiongnu aristocrats. Sometimes referred to as the Huns, the Xiongnu were an alliance of nomadic tribes that clashed with the Chinese imperial court. Archaeologist Lan Wanli of the Henan Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology said the exquisitely carved dragon sculptures measure about three inches long, and may have been ornaments on a decorative vessel. A jade belt hook, wooden cups, a leather horse harness, chariots, weapons, and household utensils were also recovered from the tomb. The bottom of the individual’s coffin was covered with layers of fabric, unhusked millet, goosefoot plants, and sawdust mixed with small pieces of charcoal and goosefoot. This was the first such arrangement found in a Xiongnu aristocrat’s coffin, Lan said. To read about a Xiongnu burial discovered in Siberia, go to "Nomadic Chic."

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