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Ancient Mural Discovered in China

Amazing 1500 year-old Ancient Mural Discovered in China


Archaeologists in Shuozhou City, China, made an incredible discovery – an extremely well-preserved tomb where a military commander and his wife were buried approximately 1,500 years ago in the Northern Qi Dynasty.  But what is particularly striking about this discovery are the colourful murals covering 80 square metres of the tomb.

While most of the tomb’s treasures had been looted, and the bodies were missing, the murals, drawn on plaster, are remarkably well-preserved and depict a man and a woman (most likely the occupants of the tomb) in various scenes.  In one scene, for example, a man and woman are shown enjoying a banquet and in another, a man plays a harp while other musicians hold instruments. In addition to the commander’s wife, a number of other females are depicted in the murals, some of them musicians and some of them attendants.

However, the highlight of the tomb is the domed ceiling, which shows how the ancient Chinese viewed the heavens.

"The domed ceiling is painted uniformly in dark gray color to signify the infinite space of the sky. The Silver River (representing the Milky Way) flows across the sky from the southwest to the northeast, and inside the river are fine fish-scale patterns representing waves in the water," wrote archaeologist Liu Yan, who reported the discovery in the journal Chinese Archaeology.  There are stars in the scene and the sun and moon are also represented, with the sun bearing a "gold crow" at its center. Supernatural beings and zodiac animals are depicted below this sky map.

When the tomb was first uncovered back in 2008, archaeologists immediately began excavating the site and conserving the murals. But appears the researchers were just in time: "Tomb robbers had already made preparations for removing the murals” Yan wrote. “The blue lines that were drawn to divide the murals into sections for cutting and the gauze fabric used for reinforcing the murals before detachment still remain on the surface of the walls.”

Archaeologists have concluded that the tomb was commissioned to be built by a local military commander who could afford a finely decorated tomb for himself and his wife to prepare them for the afterlife.

By April Holloway

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April Holloway is a Co-Owner, Editor and Writer of Ancient Origins. For privacy reasons, she has previously written on Ancient Origins under the pen name April Holloway, but is now choosing to use her real name, Joanna Gillan.

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