1,500-year-old coffin opened in China

1,500-year-old coffin opened in China

Archaeologists have opened a 1,500-year-old black lacquer coffin found in a pasture region of north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

The coffin was unearthed Saturday. The archaeologists have only been able to identify the tomb's owner as an aristocratic woman of the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534/535).

On opening the coffin, remains of a person wrapped in silk clothing was found. She had thick black hair with a metal headband and wore fur boots. The ethnicity of the woman is not yet known. A bow, a dagger, pottery jars and bowls were also found in the tomb where the coffin was found.

Zhuang Yongxing, deputy head of the cultural bureau in Xilin Gol City, said archaeologists performed a rescue excavation of the tomb after tomb raiders were caught digging a 10-metre-deep hole towards the tomb entrance, Xinhua reported.

Wang Dafang, an official from Inner Mongolia Autonomous Regional Cultural Bureau, said the well-preserved tomb would help in the study of funeral customs of Xianbei ethnic groups -- nomadic minorities who used to dominate the northern prairie.

The coffin was covered with silk curtains hanging from a bronze dragon head in the centre of the tomb chamber. Archaeologists have collected the woman's hair for technical analysis, which is expected to lead to information such as her age and diet habits.

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