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Ancient tomb findings stun archaeologists
www.chinaview.cn 2003-12-22 11:06:24

    BEIJING, Dec. 22 (Xinhuanet) -- The finding of ancient tombs which may take up a total area of 1 million square metres in southern Beijing has surprised many archaeologists.

    Exploration of the first group of the graves, covering an area of around 200,000 square kilometres, has already started, with that into the rest five to six groups not yet scheduled, source with the Beijing Municipal Cultural Relics Bureau was yesterday quoted by the Beijing-based Star Daily.

    "Our preliminary prospecting indicates there are 40 to 50 ancient graves in the designated Group One, of which we have explored about one-third," said an official identified as Zhu.

    Archaeologists have only discovered graves from Han (206 BC-AD 220) and Tang (618-907) dynasties so far, but Zhu said the conclusion was left open regarding whether or not graves from other dynasties might still be found there.

    Unfortunately, said Zhu, the Han graves that have been explored so far have been robbed, with but only a few ancient coins left, while those from the Tang Dynasty, mainly containing pottery and china, did not generate much interest.

    Therefore, the municipal government has not yet decided whether to pledge manpower and money to protect the graves. "This will be decided mostly by the value of the graves," Zhu said.

    The graves were found by local farmers in Yizhuang, a zone mainly for foreign ventures. Zhu said the graves may actually be relocated.

    Zhu considered the greatest merit of this discovery is it has for the first time proved the huge population of the region at the time.

    "Due to southern Beijing's backward economy and devastating floods of the Yongding River in ancient times, we traditionally consider the area as 'not populous,'" he said.

    "We now suspect there will be remains of populous towns in the area as well. But no clues have so far been found."

    (China Daily)

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