Located in the center of the city of Luoyang and more specifically in the center of Luoyang Eastern Zhou Royal City Square, the Museum of Emperor’s Chariot Drawn by Six Horses of Zhou Dynasty is within walkable distance from Luoyang Railway Station.
An ancient burial site, more than 2000 years old, was accidentally discovered in 2002 during an expansion of the square and the museum, dedicated to the new discovery, opened its doors on the 1st of October in 2003, only one year after the excavation started. Since the English version of the museum’s name is quite long, it is also known as Tianzi Jia Liu Museum, Tianzi meaning emperor and Jia Liu being the Chinese word for describing a six horse chariot. The findings in Tianzi Jia Liu Museum are even older than the famous Terracotta Warriors discovered in Xian.
Things to do
The Museum of Emperor’s Chariot Drawn by Six Horses of Zhou Dynasty is divided into two main parts: the sacrificial pits and the exhibition building. All together it covers an area of 1700 square meters. There are two sacrificial pits, the larger being 42 meters long, that both house petrified remains of horses and chariots that were sacrificed during Eastern Zhou Dynasty. Chariots are mostly decomposed, only their wheels remaining along with several horse skeletons. Eastern Zhou Dynasty, one of the first lost living and powerful dynasties in that region, ruled over the area from 770 BC to 256 BC, when it was overpowered by Qin Dynasty. Luoyang used to be the capital of its empire and a city of great importance at that time.
Ancient texts indicated that during its reign the number of horses a chariot had was a mark of the social prestige of its owner. Emperor chariots had six horses, vassal chariots had five, minister chariots had four, bureaucrat chariots had three, official chariots had two and civilian chariots had only one. The discovery of this site is of great archeological importance since it verifies the information given by the ancient texts. An emperor chariot, or Jia Liu in Chinese, was found here and it actually did carry six horses proving that the texts were accurate. The visitor has a chance to take a look at it displayed in the very spot where it was discovered.
The exhibition building, connected to the pits by a long indoor corridor, is divided into four sections, all of them carrying enlightening exhibitions on Chinese history at the time of Eastern Zhou Dynasty. The first section houses a large map where the visitor can see the five capitals in Luoyang during Eastern Zhou Dynasty and be shown the actual places where they match to today.
In the second section there is an educational display which introduces the visitor to Eastern Zhou Dynasty and its history. The third section works as an Eastern Zhou Dynasty Mausoleum which exhibits various items found in the tombs of the 25 emperors of this dynasty. It also carries an educational display on the tombs’ excavation process. Finally, the fourth section bears a significant collection of artifacts from Eastern Zhou Dynasty.