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Main: 1,500-year-old tomb holding the coffin and skeleton of a woman named Farong, in Datong City, China. Inset: Two gold earrings were found beside Farong's skull in Datong City, China.

1,500-Year-Old Tomb Found in China with Incredible Golden Jewelry

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A 1,500-year-old tomb unearthed in China was found to contain spectacular golden jewelry inlaid with gemstones and amethysts and a 5,000 bead necklace.  A number of burials from the Northern Wei Dynasty, which this tomb belongs to, have yielded beautiful gold earrings, but experts have said the earrings discovered in this tomb are the most exquisite to have been found from this time period.  

Live Science reports that the tomb was first discovered in 2011 but the finding has only recently been described in the journal Chinese Cultural Relics . The burial was discovered in Datong City, Shanxi Province, by the Datong Municipal Institute of Archaeology, who were assessing a site prior to a construction project.  

Datong City was founded in 200BC and located near the Great Wall Pass to Inner Mongolia. It flourished during the following period and became a resting place for camel caravans traveling from China to Mongolia. In the 4th and 5th centuries AD, the same era as the burial, Datong (then named Pincheng) became the capital of the Northern Wei Dynasty. This was also the period that the famous Yungang Grottoes were constructed.

The famous Yungang Grottoes near Datong city

The famous Yungang Grottoes near Datong city ( public domain )

An epitaph found in the tomb’s entrance revealed that the tomb belonged to a woman named Farong, who was the wife of a magistrate. Her skeleton, which was not well preserved, was found in a coffin with her skull resting on a pillow of lime. 

Datong (red) in Shanxi (orange).

Datong (red) in Shanxi (orange). ( Public domain )

The gold earrings have ornate designs, inlaid gemstones, gold chains and amethysts. They contain images of dragons and a human face.

"The human figure has curly hair, deep-set eyes and a high nose; wears a pendant with a sequin-bead pattern on its neck; and has inverted lotus flowers carved under its shoulders," wrote archaeologists in the journal article. 

The necklace was made with around 5,000 beads, including 10 gold beads, 9 gold pieces, 2 crystals, 42 pearls, and over 4,800 glass beads. 

The jewelry found in the 1,500-year-old tomb in Datong City. Credit: Chinese Cultural Relics

Interestingly, gold earrings with very similar designs have been found in northern Afghanistan, suggesting trade between the two cultures in ancient times.

Gold earrings have been recovered from numerous other Northern Wei Dynasty tombs, such as those pictured below, but archaeologists have said that the earrings found in this tomb are among the most beautiful ever found from this period. 

Gold belt, earrings and necklace unearthed in a tomb of the Northern Wei Dynasty (AD 386-534) in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region

Gold belt, earrings and necklace unearthed in a tomb of the Northern Wei Dynasty (AD 386-534) in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region.[Photo/Provided to China Daily]

Original article on  Live Science .

Top image: Main: 1,500-year-old tomb holding the coffin and skeleton of a woman named Farong, in Datong City, China. Inset: Two gold earrings were found beside Farong's skull in Datong City, China. Credit: Photo courtesy of Chinese Cultural Relics

By April Holloway

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