awangdui is the most famous of the archaeological sites.
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Three ancient tombs of the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 23) were discovered from 1972to 1074 respectively. It was here, in one of these tombs, that the corpse of a woman was exhumed. Astonishingly her entire body, including the exterior and interior organs, was extremely well persevered. Inscriptions on burial objects showed that she was a noblewoman who lived about two thousand years ago. The tomb was discovered twenty meters underground beneath an inconspicuous mound. Nowadays, the whole burial chamber with all of its contents has been removed to a new museum built specially to house it in the city proper of Changsha. The museum is a two-storey building with an underground chamber. Here visitors can See a model of the tomb, photographs of the excavators and archaeologists at work and the fitted set of four coffins in which the body was found wrapped in multiple layers of silk and linen. Here too visitors can See the numerous burial objects unearthed from the tomb: elegantly designed lacquer ware, pottery and Bamboo articles, musical instruments and silk fabrics, all in excellent condition. One silk garment measuring 128 centimeters in length weighs only 49 grams, so thin is the material. Displayed too is the charcoal and fine white clay which encased the sepulchral chamber and provided an air-and-watertight seal. It was this hermetic seal which helped keep the corpse so well persevered. Visitors can view the corpse itself, with its interior organs removed, through a sealed glass window. The temperature in the underground chamber is kept at minus 4℃ (24.8℉), and even while the chamber is open to visitors, the lights are dimmed to prevent ultra-violet rays from destroying the cells of the body.
Two archaeological discoveries in Changsha were recently said to be among China’s top 100 archaeological discoveries, further enhancing Changsha’s position as a famous historical and cultural city within China. One discovery was the Mawangdui Western Han Dynasty Tomb and the neighbouring Yuwang King Tomb of the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 23). The other discovery was the Zoumalou Bamboo Annals.
The listing of Mawangdui Tomb in the top 100 was because of the richness of its relics. The discovery of the tomb is an event as significant as finding the terra cotta soldiers in Xi’an. The relics include lacquer works, a 49-gram silk garment as thin as cicada’s wings, a T-shaped silk painting and a well preserved female corpse, the spouse of the prime minister of the Changsha Kingdom, indicating the highest preservation techniques in the world some 2,000 years ago. In addition, silk books on astronomy, Taoism, pharmaceuticals and geology are strong evidence of Chinese academic achievements in the Western Han Dynasty.
The Zoumalou Bamboo Annals were exhumed at a construction site in Changsha. Consisting of 170,000 Bamboo sheets, they surpassed the total amount of Bamboo annals discovered in other places in China. Consisting mainly of documents recording events in South China in a period 222 to 420, the discovery was a surprise to historians and archaeologists interested in the political and economic development of this period, which left insufficient evidence.