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Mawangdui Tombs

 Changsha Attractions

Mawangdui is an archaeological site located in Changsha, Hunan Province. It's one of the top attractions in changsha. The site consists of two saddle-shaped hills and contains the tombs of three people from the western Han Dynasty (206 BCE - 9 CE).

More than 3,000 valuable, well-preserved cultural relics have been unearthered from Mawangdui, including silk, musical instruments, weapons, stamps, silk books and wooden figurines that are now exhibited in the Hunan Provincial Museum.

Mawangdui Tombs belonged to Marquis Li Cang, his wife, and a male who is believed to be their son. The site was excavated from 1972 to 1974. Over 3000 cultural relics and a well-preserved female corpse were unearthed, attracting wide attention home and abroad.

Among the relics there were bright-colored lacquer wares representing the highest level of craftsmanship, inscriptions on silk demonstrating knowledge and wisdom of the ancient sages and fine silks showing amazingly accomplished weaving techniques .

Most of the artifacts from Mawangdui are displayed at the Hunan Provincial Museum. The most astonishing of all the remains was the corpse of Xin Zhui, the wife of the first Marquess of Dai, which was extremely well preserved. Her mummified body was so well-preserved that researchers were able to perform an autopsy on her body. Tomb No. 1, the eastern one, contained the remains of a woman in her fifties (personal name Xin Zhui). Her mummified body, weighing 34.3 Kg at 1.54 high, was so well-preserved that researchers were able to perform an autopsy on her body, which showed that she probably died of a heart attack triggered by an acute cholelithiasis.

After had been buried for about 2100 years, her eyelashes, vibrissa, and left eardrum were also complete. Her skin and parenchyma were soft and flexible and the joints could still move. The excellent state of preservation could be attributed to the airtight sealing and the deep burial, creating a low-temperature, anoxic and germ-free environment. Besides, the 80 litres of fluid inside the innermost coffin might have served to inhibit decomposition.


An analysis of the anatomy shows that the visceral organs were well preserved. The corpse possessed Type A blood, and blood clots were found in the blood veins.138 1/2 muskmelon seeds were found in her esophagus, stomach and intestines, indicating that she might have died shortly after eating a melon.

Tomb No. 2, the western one, was the burial site of the first Marquis of Dai, Li Cang. He was appointed as the chancellor of the Kingdom of Changsha, an imperial fiefdom of Han. Tomb No. 3 was directly south of Tomb No. 1, and contained the tomb of a man in his thirties who died in 168 BC. This tomb contained a rich trove of military, medical, and astronomical manuscripts written on silk.

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