XI'AN, June 10 (Xinhua) -- Archaeologists have unearthed four colored tomb figures in a tomb in northwest China's Shaanxi Province dating back to the Zhou Dynasty (1046 BC-221 BC).
The four colored wooden tomb figures, about 80 centimeters tall, are believed to be at least 500 years older than that of the terracotta warriors and horses of Qin Dynasty (221 BC - 206 BC), said Yin Shenping, a researcher with the provincial archeological institute.
They were standing at the four corners of the tomb when they were discovered in a tomb numbered "M502" in Liangdai village, Hancheng City, Yin said.
The wooden tomb figures have rotted and become clay tomb figures. Experts are now considering to recast them with plaster and reagent.
Tomb figures, usually in the shape of human beings, were made of wood, earth, terra cotta or stone and buried with the dead in ancient times. Before they were created, people were buried alive with the dead as sacrifices.
The research and excavation work started in April 2005 on the tombs in the Liangdai village. Experts from the Shaanxi Archeological Institute have unearthed many precious cultural relics, including gold, copper and jade and iron wares prior to the tomb figures.
The Hancheng City, where the ancient tombs are located, is close to the Yellow River and famous for its long history and culture.