Wuwangdun: A Discovery Spanning Over 2000 Years!

Updated:2024-05-08 16:44 Source:Anhui Daily Hits:
Font size: L M S print

On the afternoon of April 16th, vehicles shuttled through the lush wheat fields into a secluded courtyard in Xuwa Village, Sanhe Town, Huainan City, Anhui Province. This is the site of the Wuwangdun archaeological excavation, where the legend of a late Warring States period tomb of a Chu state king has begun to unveil its mysteries.

Dozens of reporters immediately spotted Gong Xicheng, a researcher from the Anhui Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology and the person in charge of the Wuwangdun archaeological project, waiting outside the tent. He was surrounded by journalists as they attached various sound-recording devices to him. 

Since the start of the Wuwangdun archaeological excavation, Gong Xicheng has declined numerous media interviews. This is the first media open day in four years. As he led everyone towards the excavation site under the tent, he explained that the entrance to the tomb chamber is about 51 meters long and located beneath 21 steps. Although no staff were busy at the moment, the reporters could almost feel the bustling crowds from over 2000 years ago.

In March of this year, the Wuwangdun site began the extraction of cultural relics, starting with the uncovering of 443 coffin lid plates across three layers. At the excavation site, it took five or six workers to lift a single coffin lid plate, which, after being carefully wrapped, was then transported by crane to one side. Some of these plates weighed over a ton. One can only wonder how the craftsmen over 2000 years ago managed to cut, transport, and install such massive pieces. This simple task alone reveals the extraordinary status of the tomb's occupant.

The identity of the tomb's owner has been a focal point of media interest. At the "Archaeological China" major project progress meeting for "Wuwangdun" held on the morning of April 16th, a question regarding the owner's identity was posed to Gong Xicheng. His response was, "Why am I reluctant to discuss this issue prematurely? If we are to associate the tomb owner with a specific individual, we need evidence that points clearly to an identity. Given the current stage of our excavation, we are still far from fully understanding the contents inside. Our time and energy are now primarily focused on safely documenting the artifacts at the site. As for who exactly the owner of the tomb is, we have yet to find any evidence."

Due to changes in the tomb chamber environment, the extraction of artifacts is a race against time. Currently, over a thousand numbered cultural relics, including lacquered wooden objects and bronzes, have been retrieved. In this archaeological excavation, multiple scientific techniques have been employed for archaeological detection, artifact extraction, interdisciplinary research, and on-site preservation, and an integrated management platform for Wuwangdun archaeology has been established.