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HomeNewsNew discoveries
A Number of Qin Tombs during the Warring States Excavated at Hejia Village, Shanxi Province
From:Chinese Archaeology  Writer:  Date:2013-11-22
 
From September, 2012 to February, 2013, Shanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology conducted a series of excavations. A total of 163 tombs were found at Hejia Village to its north, Zhouling Town, Weicheng District of Xianyang City in Shanxi Province, in order to coordinate the basic constructions. Hejia cemetery is situated at 7.5 kilometer from the Xianyang City Site of Qin Dynasty to its northwest, and 1.7 kilometer from ‘mausoleum of Zhou Dynasty’ (Qin mausoleum in fact) to its east. These two cemeteries, 500 to 600 meter from each other, seem to have been identical in terms of their funerary type, size and date.
 
excavated area
 
Most of these tombs were catacomb with vertical shafts passage, whereas a small quantity was earthen shaft tomb. The tombs mostly were small-sized, with only one tomb large-sized, labeled M70 (Ningyuan). It was rectangular earthen shaft tomb, large-mouthed and small-based, oriented from the west to east. M70 measures 7.8 meter long, 6.8 meter wide at its mouth, and itself 11 meter deep. Its burial base measures 4.6 meter long and 2.4 meter wide. It was badly robbed. There have been other four tombs, accompanied with bronze vessels, such as M7 (Ningyuan), a rectangular earthen shaft tomb. This tomb was built with second-tier platforms of raw earth on its four sides. It also had a large mouth and a small base, with its mouth 4 meter long and 2.1-2.4 meter wide. Lack of human skeletal in the tomb, grave goods include one bronze pot, one pottery garlic-shaped bottle, and two pottery large jars. M25 (Ningyuan) was catacomb with vertical shafts passage, with the entrance of the passage 4.2 meter long, 2.8 meter wide, and 7.8 meter deep. The burial chamber was rectangle earthen cave, measures 3 meters long and 1.1-1.15 wide. The dead was in extended supine position. There was only one coffin found with mirror, belt hook, ban-liang coins and so on, in the entrance of tomb chamber placed bronze vessels including one wine vessel Fang, one large pot, pottery including one basin, one zeng steamer, one steamed cup and two large jars. M61 (Ningyuan), a catacomb with vertical shafts passage, the entrance of the passage measures 4 meter long, 3.8 meter wide and 3.4 meter deep. The tomb chamber measured 3 meter long and 0.8-0.95 meter wide, and the dead in contracted supine position. There was a coffin, in which bronze washing vessel and iron belt hook were found. A pottery ding tripod, box, bottle, basin and jar were unearthed at the entrance of the burial chamber. Another catacomb with vertical shafts passage, namely, M71 (Ningyuan), had a dead in supine position with legs bent. There was a coffin, in which a bronze garlic-shaped bottle, a belt hook and a dagger-axe were found. Next to the entrance of burial chamber were a pottery ding tripod, a box and a bottle.   
 
The assemblages of Hejia tombs of Qin State include pottery ritual vessels imitating bronzes, i.e., ding tripod, box and bottle, and daily-used pottery, such as large pot, basin and jar. Otherwise, a great quantity of garlic-shaped bottle and one li tripod with shovel-shaped foot found. The cemetery could be dated from the last stage of Late Warring States Period to Qin dynasty. Most of the dead were in contracted position, and it is assumed that the rank of the tomb were common people. It is necessary to mention an example that the dead person buried in M15 (Hengsheng) had his patella and sacrum wounded by arrowhead. Since arrow wound may have resulted in his death, the dead person could be common people working for the army.   
 
    unearthed pottery li-tripod
 
The excavations of Qin tombs during the Warring States Period found at Hejia, Zhouling may indicate some other values:
 
Firstly, on the basis of the stratigraphic relationship, it is suggested of the same date of a road found in the Hejia cemetery and Qin tombs. There were drains set on both sides of the road. An ash pit dating to the Han Dynasty broken the pavement of the road and no tomb found. Oriented from the northeast to southwest, the road measured ca. 10.4 meter wide with 5-6 centimeter treaded-surface. Archaeologists distinguished the tracking trace on the road, and part of them overlapped. The road could be considered as nature border of the cemetery. This evidence provides the significant clue for the studies of burial layout, structure and forming. The tracking could have been used for the funerary vehicle or traffic, which provides substantial material for the burial practice and traffic during the Pre-Qin Periods. There was stamped literature found on the surface of some unearthed pottery wares. It is highly suggested that this cemetery could have been connected with the inhabitants living in ancient Xianyang city.    
 
Secondly, this excavation clearly revealed three graves enclosed with trenches, i.e., M66 (Hengsheng), M49 (Ningyuan), and M51 (Ningyuan). These graves are characterized with shallow trench, only two-sided or three-sided enclosure. Within the trench, there could have been only one tomb. The trench contained pure deposit naturally formed. There is a big difference from those found in other place, such as at Shangma cemetery in Shanxi, where found numerous human sacrifices within the trench, suggesting their use connected with funerary ritual. While in Hejia cemetery, the function of the trench around tombs could be connected with the use of burial border or drainage.    
  
Thirdly, the cemetery lies between two royal mausoleums in the middle: one is of ‘Zhou’ Dynasty and the other of Qin State in Sijiazhuang. The Hejia cemetery is different from attendant tombs found in the ‘Zhou royal mausoleum’, but it is awaited for a further study whether it has the same nature as those of middle- and small-sized attendant tombs found outside No.1 and No.6 mausoleums of Yongcheng.        
 (Translator: Sang Li)


 
 
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