Since the provincial institute of archaeology in Jiangxi released their finds on Nov 4, the royal tombs of the Marquis of Haihun State of the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 24) have caught the public eye.
The Marquis of Haihun cemetery covers roughly 40,000 square meters and contains eight tombs and a chariot burial site.
After a five year study of the tombs, experts have declared them the best-preserved royal tombs of the West Han Dynasty ever discovered in China. They have the most complete structure, the clearest layout as well as the most complete ritual system by far.
Many precious relics and a large amount of ancient money have been found in the cemetery, leading archeologists to conclude that the tomb owner was an aristocrat.
Archeologists suspect that the main tomb is that of Liu He, grandson of Emperor Wu, the greatest ruler of the Han Dynasty, one of the most prosperous periods in China's history. Liu was given the title "Haihunhou " (Marquis of Haihun) after he was deposed as emperor after only 27 days, dethroned by the royal clan because of his lack of talent and morals. Haihun is the ancient name of a very small kingdom in the north of Jiangxi.
As the tomb of "Haihunhou" is still under excavation, we can look forward to even more new discoveries that will continue to surprise. Let's take a look at the luxurious items unearthed so far. They also give some indication of the tomb owner's hobbies in life.
10 tonnes of bronze coins
The archeological team has found more than 10 tonnes of Wuzhu bronze coins together with more than 10,000 other gold, bronze and iron items, unearthed along with jade articles, wood tablets and bamboo slips.
According to documents, 10 such strings of bronze coins could be exchanged for 250 grams (or one "Jin" in Chinese) of gold. Ten "Jin" of gold was approximately the total wealth of a middle-class family at that time.
A large amount of gold coins, hoofs
On Nov 17, Chinese archaeologists also discovered 75 gold coins and hoof-shaped ingots in the tomb. The gold objects -- 25 gold hoofs and 50 very large gold coins -- are the largest single batch of gold items ever found in a Han Dynasty tomb.
A bronze pot containing chestnuts was unearthed at the "Haihunhou" tomb, which may prove the popularity of hot pot cuisine among ancient aristocrats.
The three-legged vessel was identified as a hot pot because a charcoal plate was attached to the bottom that could keep the broth simmering while it was served.
Charcoal traces and food residue, including the chestnuts, indicate the vessel had been used before it was buried. An expert said that it is very likely that the tomb's owner was a hot pot lover.
Though hot pot dinners are popular in modern China, they were rarely seen on the dinner tables of commoners 2,000 years ago. Such containers were only found in tombs of the nobles.
According to jxnews.com, a bronze distiller unearthed from the "Haihunhou" tomb has pushed back the history of distilled liquor in China 1,000 years. Archeological expert Zhang Zhongli said that prior to this discovery, the earliest distiller for wine making was found in a Yuan Dynasty tomb.
The bronze ware, round as a barrel with a diamond-shaped hollowed-out bottom, and two feet, was identified as a bronze distiller by experts.
The earliest historical record on distilled wine and distillers also dates from the Yuan Dynasty. This discovery has shifted our understanding of the earliest known instance of distilled wine in China.
Zhang said that wine was a luxury in the Western Han Dynasty. Common people rarely had the chance to taste it and it was only popular among aristocrats.
Experts have also unearthed two 2,000-year-old bronze lamps that can "swallow" smoke in the tomb of "Haihunhou".
The lamps are both in the shape of a goose catching a fish in its mouth. The light is attached to the fish. Smoke emitted during the burning of wax can enter the bird's body via an opening on the fish, travel through its neck and be dissolved by water stored in its hollow belly. The lamps can be dismantled for cleaning and have swinging lamp shades to adjust brightness.
It shows that Chinese lamp makers were coming up with designs to reduce air pollution as early as the Western Han Dynasty.
A chessboard was also found in the "Haihunhou" tomb, according to Jiangnan City Daily. The chessboard is not complete, but was apparently used for playing games. According to experts, it resembles the modern game "go", but has yet to be fully identified. If the chessboard was for "go", it would be the earliest "go" chessboard unearthed in China.
A portrait of Confucius - earliest portrait of the ancient sage
Chinese archaeologists claimed on Nov 14 to have unearthed a portrait of Confucius from the "Haihunhou" tomb.
After they pieced together a broken lacquer screen found in the main chamber of the tomb, the archaeologists said, they restored two portraits, one of which is believed to be of Confucius.
"This is the earliest portrait of the ancient sage discovered so far," said Xin Lixiang, head of the excavation team and one of China's most authoritative archaeologists for the Qin and Han dynasties.
Before the new finding was reported, experts believed the oldest Confucius portrait was on a mural found in a tomb chamber in Dongping county in East China's Shandong province. The mural dates back to the Eastern Han Dynasty (AD 25-220).
Vehicles and sacrificed horses
Vehicles and sacrificed horses were found in a tomb in Jiangxi's "Haihunhou" tomb, the only tomb excavated in south of Yangtze River with real vehicles.
Five well-preserved horse-drawn vehicles have been found, each with four sacrificed horses, and more than 3,000 accessories embellished with gold and silver.
According to archaeologist Xin Lixiang, vehicles with four horses indicate that the owner of the vehicle was among those of the highest status in the Han Dynasty.
Several jade pendants were discovered on Nov 18 near the main coffin in the central mausoleum of "Haihunhou" tomb. One of the jade items, around 10 cm long and 7 cm wide, is in a heart-shape decorated with dragon and phoenix patterns. The jade, which is of fine quality, despite being buried for over 2,000 years, still looks elegant.
Archaeologists have so far unearthed more than 10,000 heritage pieces from the tombs since 2011, including chariots, bronze cooking utensils, wine vessels, lamps and ancient coins. More than 110 selected historical relics from the cemetery are on display to the public at Jiangxi Provincial Museum in Nanchang for a week starting from Monday.
Still, more excavation and research is ongoing and more important relics may be found in the following days. The archaeological team reveals that the owner of the tomb will be officially announced on December 25.