In May 2012, Xi'an Institute of Archaeology and Heritage Conservation excavated a large sized Han Dynasty tomb in order to cooperate with basic construction. The tomb’s scale is huge, complicated in structure, and excavated large number of figurines and chariots & harnesses, which is important to the research of Han Dynasty funeral customs and substance culture.
The Shijiajie Han Tomb is located in Xi’an City. It is brick- & wooden-chambered earthen pit with sloping tomb passage, sitting north to south, “甲”-shaped in plan, consisting of mound, tomb passage, chamber, and accessory burial pits.
The tomb mound was severely damaged. The remaining mound is nearly oval, base diameter around 45 meters, top width 28 meters, height about 7.5 meters. The mound is rammed constructed, each rammed layer is about 15 to 20 cm thickness, inclining from the center to the north side.
outline of chamber
The tomb passage is located south of the tomb chamber, the plane slightly trapezoidal, and two parallel accessory burial pits at the eastern and western side near the tomb chamber found. Among them the eastern side pit (K3) is rectangle, strip bricks break joint paved at the bottom and laid flat to the walls in four sides of the chamber. From the excavation, appeared much more trace of ash inside the brick chamber, which indicated a wooden outer coffin may be existence within the chamber burned by fire. K3 is about 15.2 meters long, 5.8 to 6 meters wide and 4.1 meters in depth. K3 was robbed very badly, found only few of the bronze chariot & harnesses and crossbow.
artifacts distributed in the south part of accessory burial pit K2
The accessory burial pit (K2) to the western side of passage is rectangular, wooden frame structure. K2 was burnt before, the wooden frame structure does not exist, only two walls and the bottom found the trace of planks and square-column. Earthen shaft pit placed funerary objects placed. The excavated section of K2 is 13.2 meters long, 3.5 meters wide, around four meters deep. This burial pit was badly raided, much of the excavated artifacts such as pottery nude figurines, the bronze chariot & harnesses are from the southern part of the excavated area, along with four horse skeletons, around the figurines scattering bronze arrowheads, belt hook, iron swords and other artifacts.
pottery figurines distributed in accessory burial pit K2
The chamber is earthen shaft pit with brick or wooden outer coffin structure. The pit is 30.4 meters long from east to west and 24 meters wide from south to north. In east, west, and north side of the pit, found a flight of four steps respectively. The outer coffin chamber is built at the bottom of the pit, and the outer coffin paved with brick. Rectangle in shape the chamber is 19.3 meters long from east to west, 15.2 meters wide from south to north, and the brick outer coffin is 6.3 meters high. The outer coffin chamber, through the fires burning, remains a large number of ashes and some charcoals on the bottom, suggesting that there should be wooden outer coffin within the brick outer coffin. Tomb is robbed very serious, only incompletely stone chime, jade slices, pottery figurines, figurines head and bronze coins unearthed.
accessory burial pit K1
Approximately 19 meters southeast to the tombs there is a south-north accessory burial pit (K1). K1 is a south-north strip in shape, underground tunnel wooden frame structure, earthen shaft pit accompanying grave goods. Excavation length is 5.75 m, width 2.1 m on the top, 1.73 m wide at the bottom, unearthed square-column, bronze pot, basin, clay pots, iron swords and other artifacts, as well as lacquer, animal bones and trace of wooden box, etc..
The tomb is robbed very serious, unearthed mainly various pottery nude figurines, bronze chariot & harnesses, basin, wine vessel, pot, coins, jade huang pendant fragments, jade slice, stone chime, etc. about 600 pieces in total.
In addition, around 30 meters away the northeastern tomb found architectural remains. The remains were already destroyed. According to the traces left on the ground, it can be said that, remains are of the east-west like rectangle, 35.5 meters long, 24 meters wide. Judging from the location, it may be a building related to the tomb.
Shijiajie Han Tomb is one of the large-scale tombs of the Han Dynasty excavated in Xi'an area in recent years, which is another important archaeological discovery. The tomb was stolen badly and burned many times. The tomb unearthed only a small amount of green glazed pottery ding tripod fragments, but no artifacts can be used for dating or have obvious characteristics of the times. According to the type of clay pot and coins from K1, combined with the tomb form and other unearthed artifacts, should we conclude that the tomb were in the era of the mid-late Western Han Dynasty.
Shijiajie Han Tomb is huge in scale. Its location belongs to the important area surrounding Han Chang'an city, indicating the tomb has its special status. This tomb is not only having huge mound, but the tomb chamber has a large area of nearly 600 square meters. It is one of the tombs with largest chambers discovered in the area of Han Chang'an city in recent years.
Meanwhile, the tomb shows high levels in funerary planning and funeral goods. The tomb not only has buildings on the ground but also there are accessory burial pits inside and surrounding the tomb. The funerary goods are in high rank, especially within the K3 unearthed a large number of pottery naked figurines, which are very similar to what were unearthed in accessory burial pits of Yang mausoleum in Han dynasty in aspect of materials, size, and type.
In all, this tomb’s owner should be a noble in Han Dynasty’s, at least a marquis.
This tomb’s excavation has a great significance to the research on the structure, evolution of Han Dynasty’s large-scale tombs, and the distribution pattern, funeral systems of Han Dynasty large tombs in the area of Han Changan city. （Translator: Huang Mamie）