At the end of April 2016, Henan Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology excavated 3 looted tombs in the Chengyang City Site. So far, two tombs numbered M16、M17 have been cleared up, and the other one is being cleared now.
Inner and outer coffins of tomb M17
Ding tripod, Hu pot and bath vessel Yufou were unearthed from tomb M16 and M17
Tomb M16 was a rectangular earthen shaft tomb with wooden chamber, rectangular in plane from east to west direction, measuring 4.4 meters by 3.2 meters. The chamber was in the middle of tomb, with one outer coffin and one inner coffin. The wooden inner coffin was located at the east of the chamber, already collapsed, without human bones unearthed. The grave goods were mostly found at the west and southeast of the chamber, including pottery (majority, such as Ding tripod, Dou steamer, Hu pot and etc.), bronze weapon (dagger and short sword) , lacquer and wood ware (vessel base, arrow shaft, bow and etc.)
Tomb M17 was located 10 meters’ northwest of M16, it was also a rectangular earthen shaft tomb with wooden chamber, rectangular in plane from east to west direction, which measured 6.35 meters by 4 meters, and 3.9 meters in depth. The chamber was in the middle of the tomb, with one inner coffin and two outer coffins, a head-box as well. The head-box was located at the east of the outer coffin, and the side panels were made of wood (western and eastern), and earth (southern and northern). A bamboo mat was found inside the coffin, but no human bone was found.
Short sword was unearthed from tomb M16
Tomb-guardian beast in tomb M17
Sadly, the eastern of the outer coffin was heavily looted, thus only some pottery Dou steamer were found at the south and north corners. Funeral objects were mainly arranged at the south of the outer coffin and head-box, consisting of pottery (Ding tripod, Dou steamer, Hu pot and bath vessel Yufou), lacquer and wooden ware (tomb-guardian beast, wooden tiger, phoenix, bird, comb etc.), jade and stone ware, bronze chariots and harnesses components and other sorts.
The date of the tomb
The shape and structure of tomb M16 and M17 were nearly the same, and the funeral objects had the same characteristics and period. Both of the tombs had similar pottery group, such as a combination like Ding tripod, Dou steamer, and Hu pot; or Ding tripod, Dou steamer and Jar, with clear characteristic of the middle period of the Warring States. Thus, the date of these two tombs was speculated to be the middle period of the Warring States.
The layout of the cemetery and site
According to the preliminary exploration, there were a number of tombs around M16 and M17, identifying this area to be an important Chu state cemetery of the Warring States, called Guolou cemetery area, which enriching our understanding of the layout of ancient Chengyang city site.
The previous findings were located at the southwest terrace of the city site, and most of which were the noble family tombs of Chu state in the middle period of the Warring States. Guolou cemetery was located at the southeast, alongside Huai River, consisting of small and middle scale tombs, without tomb passage. Taking tomb M16 and M17 for example, the shape, structure and size of the tombs, the number and quality of the funeral objects were all not equal to that of the tombs in the southwest terrace, it could be speculated that the class of Guolou Tomb area was lower than that of the southwestern one. （Translator:Wang Jue）