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This standout museum in Guangzhou in southeast China has an impressively thorough collection of items from the city’s 2,000 year history. The tomb of the ancient king was only just found by accident in 1983. It was hidden about 20 meters below the surface of Xianggangshan Mountain and is built of 750 large stones. Wooden boards were laid at the bottom of the tomb, and the sides were covered by stone slabs. The whole mausoleum is a magnificent and splendid place, and particularly unique in its layout with 2 stone doors dividing it into smaller compartments.
The overall layout of the on-site museum today is centered on the ancient tomb and is built along the mountain incorporating the steep slope of the hill. The complex includes a comprehensive exhibition building, the ancient tomb preservation area, a thematic exhibition building, and features that emphasize the dignity of the burial site.
Of the entire museum, the tomb of the Nanyue king is the most popular and attractive. It is the final resting place of Zhao Mei who was the grandson of Zhao Tuo, a general of the Qin Dynasty (221 BC-206 BC) who unified the Lingnan area (which in modern day includes Guangdong as well as northern Vietnam). Zhao Mei later became the second king of the Nanyue principality whose capital was in Panyu. He gave himself the title of Emperor Wen. His tomb has a history of more than 2,000 years and is the earliest large mastaba with colored mural paintings in the Lingnan area.
Among the countless antiques recovered from the tomb of the Nanyue King, the jade artifacts are some of the most important representatives of his era. Buried with him were more than 200 pieces of jade once used for ceremonies, funerals, decoration, and practical usage. It is the best collection of jade from the many Han Dynasty tombs based on the large quantity, extreme variety, and good preservation. The museum also displays dozens of pottery and porcelain pieces from the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368). and the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).
In addition to its permanent antiques showcases, the museum also holds temporary exhibition that present the magnificent development of human civilization in China from different angles.