The tomb robber was actually a victim

A group of Chinese archaeologists and anthropologists examined the remains of an ancient grave robber found in northwest China and found that the young man was a murder victim, not a criminal. Research published in Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences.

The remains of a 25-year-old man were found in a vertical shaft that was used to rob a rich tomb from the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-202 AD). It happened back in 2010, and then the young man was considered one of the marauders who dug an underground passage into an ancient burial many years later. A recent study, which included radiocarbon analysis, has made serious adjustments to this hypothesis.

The murdered man lived in the 7th century, during the Tang Dynasty – several centuries after the sealing of the tomb. His body was thrown into the mine, when it was already 4.5 meters from the level of the tomb was filled with naturally accumulated debris. On the skull and on the bones from the side of the chest and from the back, anthropologists have found numerous traces of blows with cold weapons. A sword was found near the remains. All this points, according to researchers, to a crime – murder followed by hiding the body and the murder weapon in an abandoned mine. The young man had nothing to do with the robbery of the tomb, as probably his murderer.

A small, 3000 square meters, ancient necropolis in the village of Shiyanzi in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region was discovered by accident. In 2002, it was opened by workers laying the gas pipeline. During work in 2009 and 2011, archaeologists unearthed ten tombs of the Han dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD and two later, Song or Yuan dynasty. Most of the tombs were looted in antiquity, but archaeologists still found in them pottery, iron and bronze household items, jade, coins and animal bones.

An underground passage led to one of the tombs from the surface. The tomb turned out to be large – 18 square meters, and the graves of three people have been preserved in it: an adult man, an adult woman and a child, the gender of which could not be established. Archaeologists assumed that the burial was a family one, and that the family’s social status was quite high. This was indicated by the size of the tomb and the grave goods, which, unfortunately, were heavily plundered through the very same mine.

Source: Автономная некоммерческая организация "Редакция журнала «Наука и жизнь»" by

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