Battle Chariots Found in China

smh.com.au: Excavations for an expressway in China's Hubei Province have led to the discovery of a number of well-preserved, 2000-year-old chariots. Archaeologists studying a highway excavation have been delighted to find a number of very well-reserved chariots including one designed to be pulled by six horses which may well have belonged to the emperor. From the Zhou Dynasty, (770-256 BCE), the chariots were discovered in a 12-meter-wide "cart pit."

Other finds in the area include a burial site, chimes, cauldrons and 80 musical instruments so well preserved that "the musicians could give a concert," according to the experts.

The nine tombs found in this area are the largest discovery from this time period.

China's Attitude Toward Antiquities

I was in the Beijing area last October on business, and had two days (during a national holiday) when I could sight-see. I used that time to visit as many of the antiquities as possible, including the Ming Tombs, the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and the Temple of Heaven.

It was interesting to see how the Chinese government posted signs emphasizing the duty of all Chinese to respect and care for the cultural heritage of this ancient and proud nation. At the same time, I was appalled to see how shabby some of the facilities are that enclose these antiquities. In the particular Ming tomb which I visited, for example, priceless works of carved jade, jeweled swords, and ornate armor were housed in battered glass cases, with lighting that was so poor it was difficult even to see the items, let alone to photograph them (flashlessly, of course).

China seemed to be sincerely interested in improving this situation, and there were many remodeling projects underway or planned for the near term. I have to believe that economics, and the current global downturn, have slowed some of these projects. China, like any other country, has a finite national budget.

I hope that the Chinese government will take the time and expense to carefully excavate, catalog, and preserve this wonderful find.

Incidentally, the photos from my trip are on my personal web site: http://4th.com/lizard/photos/beijing200210/