3,000-year-old coffins discovered in China

Beijing, April 26 (IANS) Three sets of coffins, believed to have been buried 3,000 years ago, were discovered in China’s Henan province, sources said on Tuesday.

They were unearthed on Monday and taken to a museum in Anyang city, Xinhua cited local archaeological sources as saying.

Last month, an ancient tomb was discovered while digging in a brick kiln. Workers uncovered bronze items as well as human and animal bones ten metres deep underground.

Following a preliminary excavation, archaeology experts found 22 tombs from the late Shang Dynasty (1600 BC-1046 BC), the second in China’s history.

They retrieved three sets of inner and outer coffins made of cypress wood from the tombs, as well as a single coffin. In ancient times, Chinese people used an outer coffin to protect the inner coffin.

Kong Deming, an expert, said it is rare to see such well-preserved coffins from the Shang Dynasty.

“It is a family burial place,” he said. “The owners were affluent people, possibly aristocrats.”

He noted that the discovery might help archaeologists learn more about Shang Dynasty burial customs and understand cultural development.

The excavation could also be helpful in geological studies since the coffins were buried so deep, Kong added.

The Shang Dynasty capital was once in Shangqiu, Henan and later moved to Anyang, where ruins of the old city were discovered in the early 1900s in one of China’s oldest and largest archaeological sites.

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