ZHENGZHOU -- Chinese archaeologists have discovered nearly 1,000 tombs, some of which date back 2,200 years, in Central China's Henan Province.
Half of the tombs were built in Eastern Zhou Dynasty (770-221 B.C.) or the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD). Others are believed to belong to the Jin (317-581), the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534), and the Five Dynasties period (907-960).
All the tombs, 972 in number, cover an area of 756 sq km in Mangshan, an imperial graveyard in northern suburbs of Luoyang, ancient capital of six Chinese dynasties.
The excavation was conducted by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage from 2003 to October this year in order to preserve the ancient relics in the area, where a State-level tomb protection zone will be built.
The archaeologists also unearthed 20,000 historical artifacts, including pottery utensils, china objects, gold vessels, silver cups, bronze basins, iron items, stone articles and jade ornaments, said Zheng Yuhai, an expert with the excavation project.
The unearthed funeral objects will be taken to display at museums in the protection zone, Zheng said.
All the tombs had underground chambers built of brick but the shape of their ceilings were unique to their dynasties. The chamber walls of 24 tombs were decorated with delicate carved bricks that pattern dragons and tigers, showing that the tomb owners were emperors or members of imperial families, he said.
The artifacts will provide valuable clues for the study of how people lived as well as funeral customs of the different eras, the expert added.