Chinese believed that when someone died they were supposed to be buried with all the goods required for the afterlife. This may explain the complex of eight tombs that archaeologists have located in the Xinjian District.
The main tomb is Liu He’s, the grandson of one of the greatest Han emperors, Emperor Wu, and the second tomb belongs to Liu’s wife. This complex of tombs covers an amazing forty thousand square feet with walls measuring nine hundred meters long. The discovery also includes another 10,000 wuzhu coins, gold, bronze and iron items, chimes, bamboo slips and tomb figurines. The figurines represented servants and other people that the deceased would need to serve him in the afterlife. Even a chariot burial pit was located there, because with the death of a nobleman or member of a royal house it was believed that his chariots would accompany him into the afterlife. The chariots were placed in a specially prepared pit and the horses would be slaughtered and arranged in his tomb. Even the slaves and the ones associated with driving the chariot were killed or sometimes interred alive as their purpose was to accompany their master to the spirit world.
Researchers have been excavating on this site for five years and the most remarkable find within the tomb is the two million copper wuzhu coins that weight two tons. A feature of these coins is the square hole in the centre of the coin. This hole fulfilled the purpose of allowing the coins to be strung on a string or stick, a thousand at a time, making them easier to transport. When full, these strings equaled one tael (1.3 ounces) of pure silver. The ancient money were found at a dig site in the Xinjian District in the city of Nanchang, capital of East China’s Jiangxi Province.
Legend tells that people believed heaven was round and the earth was square, thus the round coin represents heaven and the square shape in the middle represents the earth. Experts believe that, at the time, these coins would have been worth the equivalent, in today’s money, of more than a million U.S. dollars.
This tomb, with its magnificent funeral offering of coins, will help archaeologist to understand better the lives of Chinese nobility from thousands of years ago – civilized and educated people that have contributed to so many things that we take for granted today. It is hoped that this magnificent discovery will now bring more light on the life of nobility from ancient times.