The excavation of Marquis Haihun’s tomb at Nanchang, Jiangxi Province, has been conducted by the Jiangxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology and Cultural Relics and associated institutes in Nanchang, Jiangxi Province since March, 2011. This tomb is roughly dated back to 2000 years ago.
The plan of Marquis Haihun's cemetery
Storge of drinking vessel
The cemetery is composed of Marquis Haihun’s tomb and his wife’s tomb, along with 7 associated tombs. Covering an area of 40,000 square meters, the cemetery garden was surrounded by walls, gates and funeral towers. There were also a ceremonial palace, a memorial hall and accommodations for management officers within the cemetery. The road and drainage systems were well arranged. The associated family tombs were located at the east and north sides of the cemetery, each of which was attached by a ceremonial hall. While Marquis Haihun’s tomb and his wife’s tomb were arranged in the high and center location, buried in the same cemetery but different burial pits.
Bronze chime-bell unearthed from the tomb
Gold items unearthed from the tomb
To the west of Marquis Haihun’s tomb was an accompanying chariot pit where 5 deliberately decorated ‘An’ chariots along with skeletal remains of 20 horses were excavated. The Marquis tomb was in large scale, and the mound over it was in trapezoid shape 7m high. The burial pit was ‘甲’ shaped. The burial chamber was constructed by piles of timbers, covering an area of 400 square meters, which were composited of the main chamber, the corridor-shaped storage space and passage, vaulted passage. The main chamber was situated in the centre of the chamber, surrounded by the storage space. In between, there was an alley separating these two areas. The vaulted passage began at the south of the chamber and there were two doors at both ends connecting the main chamber and the tomb passage. The main chamber was 3.4m in height, which was 0.4-0.5m higher than the storage space and its size was about 60 square meters. It was divided into two rooms, one of which in the east and the other in the west. The east room was twice the size of the west one. The coffin was placed at the northeast in the east room. The storage space was divided according to the function. In the north part, from the west to the east, there were storages for clothes, money, food, musical instruments and drinking vessels respectively while in the west part from north to south, there were storages for weapons, written records and game’s items. The east storage was largely for culinary items and in the vaulted passage stored some musical chariots. The chariot pits were situated on both sides of the vaulted passage.
Through archaeological investigation and exploration, there found many archaeological sites associated with Marquis Haihun’s state in the vicinity of his tomb including the Zijin city ruin, the family cemetery of Marquis Haihuns and cemetery for common people. Inferred from the written record, the Zijin city is the capital of the Haihun state during the Han Dynasty. The cemetery of both generations of the Marquis and common people were located west and south to the city.
Valuable information has been retrieved from the excavation in the last five years. The survey area is up to 1,000,000 square meters, 10,000 square meters of which has been excavated. A large number of assemblages including golden artifacts, copper items, iron items, jades, lacquer vessels, woven items, porcelains, bamboo scripts and so forth have been recovered, numbered around 10,000 pieces.
Marquis Haihun’s tomb is the tomb of the West Han Dynasty that has been recovered so far with the best preservation. The structure, the function and the ceremonial system all have been well preserved, casting light upon the research on burial system of dukes and princes of the West Han Dynasty. This is the only tomb found so far south to the Yangtze River which is attached by a chariot pit buried with real horses. Its scale, design and structure are strikingly typical to the burial standard of a duke in the West Han Dynasty. All these assemblages recovered were elaborately made, reflecting the luxury life of the elites during the Han Dynasty. Moreover, the tomb is associated with other sites such as the capital city and family cemetery, suggesting of an entire layout of a state in the Han Dynasty. In summary, Marquis Haihun’s tomb is a seminal discovery and it renders important evidence to our insight into the funeral and metropolitan system of the West Han Dynasty. (Translator: Dong Ningning)