News and Announcements

Discovery of the Tomb of Jia Bao in Datong

In Datong, Shanxi, in a tomb connected with a person named Jia Bao 贾宝,  archaeologists  for the first time found wooden figurines of warriors and  grave-quelling beasts from the Northern Wei period.  The style of the  grave is largely that of the Jin system 晋制. The tomb (M13) these  figurines came out of was special in shape, in its numerous grave  goods, its clear date, and that it belonged to a named individual.   Within the chamber of this tomb there was a wooden hall 木堂, within  which there was a wooden couch.  Unfortunately, these wooden structures  collapsed and rotted away.  That Jia Bao had a wooden hall rather than a stone one means the budget for his tomb was limited  and he was probably of middle means.  Among the tomb's grave goods was a  stone stele that has the following inscription: “唯大代太和元年 (477 CE)  岁次丁巳十月辛亥朔十日庚申凉州武威郡姑藏县民贾宝铭.”  Jia Bao is not mentioned  in the dynastic histories, however the Wuwei Jia lineage was one of  Liangzhou 凉州 great families.  Forty-three other tombs were found in this  cemetery.
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Discovery of the Doulu Family Cemetery

Near the new Xi'an-Xianyang airport, archaeologists discovered a Northern Dynasties family cemetery. In the tomb passage of M3, excavators found the top section of a stele. From it, they confirmed that the tomb belonged to the famous Northern Zhou figure Doulu En 豆卢恩. Both he and his elder brother Doulu Ning 豆卢宁 were important officials during the Western Wei and Northern Zhou. Doulu En who died in 566 was particularly well-known for his outstanding military service.  The Doulu family was a famous Xianbei clan that often intermarried with the royal family. The cemetery consists of four tombs. The cemetery still has its complete, surrounding ditch, so it is the most complete Northern Zhou cemetery ever found in Shannxi. The four tombs have three generations of the Doulu family. The tombs have many grave goods: 395 in all. The main body of Doulu En stele is at Xianyang's Confucian temple. The tomb of Doulu Zheng has two styles of figurines: those of the Northern Zhou and the Sui. One remarkable piece is a clay camel that is carrying a sack with the face of Bacchus, the Greek god of wine.

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Excavation and Dating of Zorkut

In Xinjiang's Luntai County 轮台县 at the ancient city site of Zorkut 卓尔库特, researchers have determined that this city had three layers of walls and that it existed from the Warring States times to the Wei-Jin period. However, it reached its peak in Han times. During Han-Jin times, this was one of the greatest cities along the northern border of the Tarim Basin. Within the eastern part of the inner city, there was a high terrace that was surrounded by walls on all four sides. There were large structures within it; indeed, one could call it the "high terrace 高台 city." The discoveries of the most recent campaign concern the high terrace city. Many of the artifacts unearthed from the Han times strata have the special characteristics of items made in Chang'an, whereas Wei-Jin era goods show influences from Kucha.

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Northern Wei imperial altar discovered in Inner Mongolia

In Inner Mongolia's Wuchuan County 武川县, archaeologists have discovered a Northern Wei imperial altar that was probably constructed between 430-490 CE. This is the first time that a Northern Wei imperial altar has been found. The site was discovered in the 1980s, but its excavation only began in 2019. The altar was used by Northern Wei emperors to perform sacrifices to Heaven, or 天. At the site, archaeologists have uncovered the remains of a round building; its interior diameter is 15.5 meters, while its exterior diameter is 32.5 meters. Within the building remains a small amount of sacrificial pottery has been found. Two round pens for holding sacrificial animals have also been identified. The excavating archaeologists believe the site shows the influence of both steppe and Chinese traditions of offering sacrifices.

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Tuvan Cemetery reveals evidence on violence in the Early Common Era in a nomadic community

From a cemetery in the Republic of Tuva in Southern Siberia, archaeologists have unearthed the skeletons of 87 individuals from lived between the 2nd to fourth century CE. An analysis of the skeletons determined that 25% died of violence. Most probably due to hand-to-hand combat. There was also evidence of which ritualist violence, such as scalping and throat-slitting.

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Millward - Reading the Tabghach “Ballad of Mulan” in 2020

James Millward has written a great, balanced historical article on the "Ballad of Mulan" for #AsiaNow.

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Rouran-period Excavation in Mongolia

A 4,000 foot high cave burial in Mongolia contained an almost perfectly preserved wooden saddle. The burial also had a compound bow, arrowheads, a leather quiver with an iron hook, and a wooden vessel. Archaeologists believe, based on carbon dating, that the burial dates to the middle of the fourth to fifth century, or perhaps the beginning of the sixth century. They believe that the person buried in the tomb who was accompanied by a horse was a Rouran warrior.

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Oldest Horseshoe in China Discovered at a Xianbei Site

At a Sarbi (Xianbei) site in Inner Mongolia's Tongliao city, archaeologists have excavated a settlement site, where they discovered a horseshoe. It is the oldest horseshoe found in the confines of modern-day China. The site has the remains of two buildings and over ten ash pits. They yielded many pottery sherds, ironware, stone objects, and animal bones. Many of the pottery pieces were decorated with patterns that have images of horses, yurts? (毡帐), and the sun.

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219 Eastern Han-Six Dynasties Tombs Excavated in Jintang County, Sichuan

In Jintang County, Sichuan, archaeologists excavated 219 tombs that date from the late Eastern Han through the Six Dynasties. The majority date to the Western and Eastern Jin. Most of the tombs are small or medium size. Usually the tombs are grouped two or three together, which probably mean each group belongs to an individual family. An interesting grave good is a glass earring. Since Sichuan doesn't produce glass it had to come from somewhere else. Perhaps it was a good that came by way of the Maritime Silk Road.

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Discovery of Bamboo/Wooden Strip Documents in Yuyao

In Yuyao, Zhejiang, for the first time, archaeologists have excavated an Eastern Han, Southern Dynasties site that had documents written on bamboo and wooden strips. The site is in a low-lying area. Upon excavation, archaeologists discovered that during the Eastern Han and Six Dynasties that the site was along the river channel. What they found were wooden constructions meant to create levees meant to protect the embankments, as well as ten ash pits. Most spectacularly they discovered a wooden slip with writing on both sides, a mugu 木觚 slip, as well as a fengjian "wooden envelope." The mugu slip has 150 characters on it. The document which dates to 74 CE states that an envoy for the Heavenly Deity 天帝 asks the earth god (社君) to provide good fortune and health to a district official named Sun Shaobo 孙少伯. Many thanks to Dai Weihong for this citation.

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Three Tombs from the Han-Three Kingdoms Period Excavated in Hunan

In the Heshan 赫山 District of Hunan's Yiyang city, archaeologists excavated three tombs: one which was a brick chambered tomb, another was a pit tomb, and a third was a pit tomb with cave chambers. This last tomb M3 was the best preserved and unique. M3's tomb passage was made like a stairway, while the tomb's two chambers were fashioned in the style of caves. The tomb had 18 grave goods, including 8 pieces of well-preserved celadon vessels. This is the first time a cave-chamber tomb has been found in Yiyang, and is a type of tomb that is very rare in Hunan, but it is common in the north. This has led the excavating archaeologists to speculate that the deceased was a northerner who moved to Yiyang late in the Eastern Han or during the Three Kingdoms period. The deceased used the burial customs of his/her native place, but was interred with local grave goods.

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47 Tombs Discovered in Yongzhou dating from the Han to Tang

 In Hunan's Yongzhou city, archaeologists discovered 47 ancient tombs, 20 of which were brick-chambered tombs, while 27 were vertical pit tombs. Seven of the brick-chambered tombs were excavated: one dated to the Eastern Han, one to the Six Dynasties, one to the Sui, and four to the Tang. An important feature of these tombs is that they had bricks with dates on them. The grave goods of the single-chamber Eastern Han tomb (M485) include pottery and coffin nails. The tomb has three bricks inscribed with the date of 146 CE. The inscription reads, “本初元年(公元146年)合宜子.” Tomb (M484) is also a single-chamber tomb, which is comparatively small and has been looted. Its grave goods include largely fragmented porcelain vessels, wuzhu coins and silver vessels. Two of its bricks are inscribed with the date of 604 “大业四年大." So it dates to the Sui. Since these tombs are small and their grave goods few, they probably belonged to commoners.

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Two Han-Jin Brick Chamber Tombs Found in Hunan

In Hunan's Zixing City 资兴市, two brick chamber tombs that date either from the Eastern Han or the Western or Eastern Jin were excavated; more than 30 artifacts were found in them. One of the tombs that probably belonged to a male had 23 artifacts, which included bronzeware, porcelain, pottery vessels, and an iron knife. One artifact of note found within was a well-preserved bronze cauldron used for cooking. This type of cauldron was a common southern cooking utensil during this period. These tombs belonged to a rich household.

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Publication: David Chai, ed., Dao Companion to Xuanxue

Offers a comprehensive introduction to the principal figures of Neo-Daoism and their contributions

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Call for Papers: EMCG Annual Conference

Please visit our conference webpage for submission information