The ring or watch said to have been found by Chinese archaeologists in 2008 at a centuries-old, sealed tomb.

Timeless Mystery: How did a Swiss Ring Watch End up in a Sealed Ming Dynasty Tomb?

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A mystery continues to surround the curious excavation of a strange artifact and those who recovered it from the depths of an ancient tomb in China. When archaeologists reportedly recovered a modern-looking, mud-encrusted artifact from a 400-year-old sealed tomb, their astonishment was apparent. For some, this type of discovery could have only meant one thing—it was evidence of time travel. Was the discovery real? Was it a hoax? Could the find have been an intriguing artifact out of place and time?

In 2008 it was reported by several news outlets that a team of archaeologists had made a puzzling discovery. Reports described the team as comprised of archaeologists and journalists filming a documentary at a dig at a sealed tomb dating to the Ming Dynasty in Shangsi, southern China. As one of the coffins was being cleared of soil before being opened, a strange thing happened.

Interior of the Dingling Tomb, a part of the Ming Dynasty Tombs, collection of mausoleums built by the Chinese Ming dynasty emperors.

Interior of the Dingling Tomb, a part of the Ming Dynasty Tombs, collection of mausoleums built by the Chinese Ming dynasty emperors. Representational image only. Wikimedia Commons

“When we tried to remove the soil wrapped around the coffin, suddenly a piece of rock dropped off and hit the ground with metallic sound,” said Jiang Yanyu, a former curator of the Guangxi Autonomous Region Museum, according to reports.  “We picked up the object, and found it was a ring. After removing the covering soil and examining it further, we were shocked to see it was a watch.”

The strange metallic object was said to be a small golden ring, with a watch face on its front, approximately two millimeters thick. Tiny hands on the watch showed time had frozen at 10:06. Most astonishing of all, the back of the diminutive watch was said to have the word “Swiss” or “Switzerland” written in English.

The enigmatic ring-watch found in a 400-year-old sealed tomb in China. Where did the ring come from? How did it get in the tomb?

The enigmatic ring-watch found in a 400-year-old sealed tomb in China. Where did the ring come from? How did it get in the tomb? ( Image Source )

“Swiss Made” is the term used in recent decades to show that product has originated in Switzerland, especially relating to watches.

How was it possible that a tomb sealed for 400 years and dating to the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) had come to hold an artifact that could only have been created after the establishment of the present state of Switzerland, (in 1848; previous to then it was known as The Old Swiss Confederacy) and the ring-watch is said to date back only a century?

 “This is the earliest dated watch known. It is engraved on the bottom: Philip Melanchthon, to God alone the glory, 1530. There are very few watches existing today that predate 1550; only two dated examples are known--this one from 1530 and another from 1548. The perforations in the case permitted one to see the time without opening the watch.”

 “This is the earliest dated watch known. It is engraved on the bottom: Philip Melanchthon, to God alone the glory, 1530. There are very few watches existing today that predate 1550; only two dated examples are known--this one from 1530 and another from 1548. The perforations in the case permitted one to see the time without opening the watch.” Public Domain

How could such an artifact have been discovered so out of place and out of time?

OOPArts are “out-of-place-artifacts,” a description of unique and little-understood objects from the archaeological record which fall into the ‘anomalous’ category. To some, these objects have been found when and where they should not be (such as the Antikythera mechanism , the Maine Penny , and even the Nazca Lines ), and thus challenge the conventional understanding of history, and may even reveal that humanity (or otherworldly beings) had a different degree of civilization or sophistication than described and understood by officials and academia.

Theories

There are many theories as to how a modern-looking Swiss ring with a watch face might have been discovered by Chinese archaeologists from a 400-year-old sealed tomb.

Some researchers cite the possibility of time travelers who came from the future and who dropped a modern ring in an ancient location, accidentally leaving their anachronistic possession behind. The evidence for this is scant, but it is an intriguing idea.

However, it is also within the realm of possibility that the so-called ‘sealed’ tomb was not as secure as the Chinese officials and archaeologists had presumed. Early tomb-raiders or explorers gaining access to the tombs secretly cannot be ruled out, although there are no reports on any of the ancient Chinese artifacts having suffered damage or theft—something which might be expected if the tomb was entered.

Still others comment that if the strange timepiece/jewelry had been dropped in the last century or so, a rodent might have taken it and burrowed into the tomb.

Comments

If the object was covered in dirt, how could it have a "metallic ring" when it hit the ground?

The doubts cast by the author on the story are legitimate and should be well noted. The standards for archaeology and excavating sites in China are not nearly what they are in other parts of the world. It has only been during the last 35 years that the PRC has taken an interest in China's past.

Ever since the discovery of the First Emperor's Tomb which revealed all those terracotta statues, the government has made some strides to combat illegal excavating, but with so many sites and so many people, the job is very difficult.

From the story's lack of names and places, I would suspect that this is probably an illegal excavation by amateurs or criminals looking for good to sell on the black market. If, in fact the story isn't a hoax, as the article suggests.

Put this article in the "I'm from Missouri, show me" file. Until names, dates and places are verified by independent sources, this story is a non-story.

I think this is a hoax, and a bit like the game, Telephone. What kind of hoax? I do not know...due to the lack of evidence from the supposed journalists & archaeologists.

What they need to do us look at the symbol in the middle of the "face" of the ring. What does that symbol mean that looks like "11:05 with possible marks near the 3 and 9" positions.

What does the symbol say in Chinese?

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