Significant achievements from archaeological surveys and excavations of Mausoleums from Eastern Han Dynasty in Luoyang, Henan
There are 12 mausoleums from Eastern Han Dynasty. Among them, 11 are situated in Luoyang, Henan province, except for the Emperor Xian of Han dynasty (whose mausoleum is located in Xiuwu County, Jiaozuo, Henan). There are mainly two cemetery areas in Luoyang. One is Mangshan cemetery area, the other is Luonan (Southern Luoyang) cemetery area. Extensive surveys and investigations of mausoleums from Eastern Han Dynasty and other cemetery sites were carried out by Luoyang Municipal Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, which were integrated with “Archaeological Investigations and Survey of Mangshan Cemetery Groups”. Archaeological excavations of mausoleum cemetery were conducted. Tomb M722 of Zhucang and Eastern Han Dynasty Mausoleum in Baicaopo Village have been excavated. Excavating area adds up to 14000 square meters.
Distant view of Zhucang Tomb M722
So far, exploration area covers 2560,000 square meters. 7 imperial mausoleums have been explored, including Dahan Mound, Erhan Mound, Sanhan Mound, Liujiajing Mound, Zhucang M722, Zhucang M707 and Eastern Han Dynasty mausoleum in Baicaopo Village. Around mound of mausoleums, there are large-scaled architectural foundations of cemetery yard. Enormous architectural foundations intensively distribute on the east side or northeast side of mounds.
Excavation of cemetery
Zhucang M722 Cemetery from Eastern Han Dynasty
Zhucang M722 is located in the west of Zhucang Village in Mengjin County, Luoyang. It’s within the Mangshan cemetery area. The cemetery is in about square plane with a 420m long side. Around the cemetery, there are rammed-earth foundation trenches. The mound is in the middle-west of the cemetery. Original mound is circular in plane with a 136m long diameter. The tomb is in the plane of Chinese Character “甲”‘s shape. Tomb passage is 50m long and 8.8~10.4m wide. Tomb chamber is 28.8m long from east to west and 25m long from north to south.
Drainage ditches found in Zhucang Tomb M722
Architectures in cemetery are mainly placed in the east and south of the mound. According to the results of exploration and excavation, it’s almost sure that there are two cemetery yard. Inner yard has a mound of the mausoleum, No.1 platform architectural unit in the east side of the mound and architectural unit in the south side of the mound. The outer yard is situated in slightly northeast side of inner one, including No.2 and No.3 platforms as well as No.1 and No.2 courtyards architectural units. There are only rammed-earth foundation trenches being found from excavations and cross-sections of key parts of “walls” in outer and inner yard, while there is no wall at all. A door remains has been found in the east side of inner yard. The door is about 24.2m wide.
Aerial photo of Zhucang Tomb M722
Artifacts unearthed from the site include architectural materials, daily-used pottery vessels and various kinds of iron weapons. Architectural materials contain semi-circular tiles and pan tiles with cord patterns, eave tiles with cloud patterns, hollow bricks, square bricks, bar-shaped bricks and etc. Among them, there are stamp sealing with characters as “nanzhen gongwa (tiles of Nanzhen Palace)” on semi-circular tiles and pan tiles. Daily-used utensils range from basins, jars, bowls and etc. Besides, all kinds of iron weapons are uncovered, including halberds, caltrops, arrowheads and so on.
Excavation of East-Han Dynasty cemetery found in Baicaopo Village
Eastern Han Dynasty Mausoleum in Baicaopo Village belongs to Luonan cemetery area. It is located in leading edge of junction area of high slope of north side of Wan’an Mountain and valleys of Yi River and Luo River. It’s the north end of core area of Eastern Han Dynasty Mausoleum in the southern part of Luoyang. The tomb is numbered as 1030. The mound of the tomb has always been leveled. Diameter of original mound might be about 125m. Tomb passage is 10m wide.
West steps of Zhucang Tomb M722
Till now, whole area of exploration of East-Han Dynasty cemetery at Baicaopo Village covers 190000 square meters. Excavated area is 1200 square meters. There are inner cemetery yard and outer cemetery yard. In the east and north sides of the mound, there is ring-road around the cemetery. A large rammed-earth platform is found in east part of the mound. It’s almost square in plane with an 80m-long side. In the northeast side of the mound, there are two groups of architectural remains. Around them, there is rammed-earth enclosed wall. Inside the wall, there are drainage ditches. Moreover, in north part of the mound, there are more than 50 hearths being arranged in regular pattern. It’s preliminarily predicted that the hearths are related to construction of the cemetery.
So far, excavating works are mainly focus on rammed-earth buildings, roads and hearths. The road in the north part of inner cemetery is about 7.4m long. In the south side of the road, there are two east-west symmetrical rammed-earth platforms in the north of the mound, which are about 8m long from east to west and 4.5m wide from north to south. The distance between two rammed-earth platforms is 20m.
Significance of the discoveries
Mausoleum system of Eastern Han Dynasty has always been a weak part of research on Chinese ancient mausoleum system history. Significant breakthrough has been made through a series of archaeological work in recent years.
First, overall layout of mausoleum cemeteries of Eastern Han period has been confirmed. Eastern Han Dynasty mausoleums have inner and outer cemetery yards. Inner yard are centered by Empire and Queen’s co-burial tombs, and surrounded by walls and roads. Outer cemetery yard are mainly large-scaled rammed-earth architectures, concentrated in the northeast side of inner cemetery yard.
Sacrificial pit in Zhucang Tomb M722
Second, basic characteristics of burial mounds of mausoleums from East-Han Dynasty have been clarified. Planes of mounds of mausoleums are circular with a more than 130m long diameter. Tomb passages are in the shape of Chinese character “甲” with a long slope, heading the south. Tomb passages are more than 50m long and 9m wide. Besides, several steps are built inward. Tomb chambers are square or Chinese-character-“甲”-shaped in plain with winding corridors.
Third, key elements of Eastern Han Dynasty Mausoleum cemeteries mentioned in historical documents are preliminarily confirmed, such as “shi dian (stone palace)”, “zhong ju (a shelf for hanging bells)”, “qin dian (retiring hall)”and so on.
Through a series of surveys and excavations of Eastern Han Dynasty Mausoleums mentioned above, a relatively clear understanding of structure and layout of East Han Dynasty Mausoleum has been made, which provides important referent materials for research on implication and revolution of cemetery system of Eastern Han dynasty as well as for further discussion on the owners of each mausoleum. What’s more, they also give strong support to protection work of Eastern Han Dynasty Mausoleums in Luoyang in future. (Translator: Ma Huanhuan Photograph:China Cultural Relics News)