XI'AN, Jan. 10 (Xinhuanet) -- Chinese and British scientists are planning for the DNA analysis of 12 horse skeletons unearthed from the burial ground of a prominent duke who lived more than 2,500 years ago in northwestern Shaanxi Province.
Archeologists with Beijing University and Cambridge University have used a professional database to process data collected from the skeletons, including the size and weight of the skulls, spinalcolumns and limbs.
A Cambridge laboratory will be entrusted to carry out the DNA analysis, after the State Administration of Cultural Heritage of China gives the green-light, said a source with the Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Archeology who declined to be named.
The DNA test will hopefully find out more facts about ancient horses, including their skeletal bone mineral density and other trace elements, which may shed light on how horses were fed and tamed in history, he said.
Experts say this will be the first comprehensive study on ancient Chinese horses, though sacrificial horses and carts are often found in north China.
The 12 horse skeletons were unearthed from two sacrificial tombs close to the No. 1 Tomb of Duke Jinggong (577 BC - 537 BC) of the Qin Kingdom in Fengxiang County, 170 km west of the provincial capital Xi'an.
The Kingdom of Qin was one of the major kingdoms during the Spring and Autumn Period (770 BC - 475 BC).
The duke's tomb was excavated between 1976 and 1986, during which time archaeologists found 3,500 valuable cultural relics even though it has been broken into by thieves and robbers more than 200 times.
Its funeral chamber, 24 meters from the surface, 16 meters long,5.7 meters wide and 4.2 meters high, was separated by a wooden partition into two parts. The chamber to the east was designed in imitation of the duke's office and rear chamber to the west as hisdining room.
Fengxiang County is home to a graveyard where 17 other Qin dukes are at rest. Enditem