Archaeologists sure tomb belongs to Zhang family

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According to historical records, Zhang Anshi joined the court as a minister in the reign of Emperor Wu of the Western Han Dynasty more than two-thousand years ago. He then continued to assist three emperors in securing their power. Once again, here’s CCTV reporter Li Xiang to explain why archaeologists are so sure that the mausoleum complex in Xi’an belongs to the Zhang family. 

The site, located on the outskirts of Xi’an, used to be an industrial compound. The excavation of the mausoleum complex, which was discovered by chance in 2007, kicked off one year later. 

Unfortunately a dozen tombs had been looted by tomb raiders from different eras. They left lots of holes on the outer walls of the tombs. 

Still, pieces left inside that are discovered by archaeologists during their excavation have proved that the mausoleum complex is of great historical value. 

Zhang Zhongli, Deputy Director of Shaanxi Archaeological Institute said “This is the pit dedicated to funerary objects. We’ve unearthed many terracotta warriors from this pit.” 

It is rare to see in history that a major tomb is escorted by altogether six accompanying pits of funerary items. Judging from the array of ceramic soldiers underneath, archeologists firstly assumed that the tomb owner was a general. 

Experts made further studies of the exposed relics, confirming that the tomb owner was of the Western Han Dynasty. And a seal found underground engraved with the character Zhang unraveled the myth. 

Zhang Zhongli said: “There was only one general surnamed Zhang in the closest time range of the Western Han Dynasty. What we’ve found is the seal carved with Zhang. Also the seal features the sign of the reign title. We’re positive that this mausoleum complex belongs to Zhang Anshi.” 

The expert adds that Zhang Anshi was known for his honesty and a down-to-earth working attitude. And that’s why he was considered a role model of his successors, and the Zhangs were conferred the rank of nobility nine generations in a row. 

Source: Chinese Archaeology [April 11, 2011]

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