Tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng

Last updated by fabiowzgogo at 2014/10/28

The tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng is a large earth pit with a vertical cave like the shape of the Chinese character ‘卜’ and wooden enclosure outside coffins which was discovered by the local army when they extended their barracks in the autumn of 1977. In March, 1978 the Archeology department organized a union exploration and they began to dig in the early May and finished the cleaning work of the surface of the tomb in the end of June. According to the identification of the inscription on the unearthed Buo Bell (a kind of chime bells musical instrument), this is a tomb of the Emperor of the marquises state Zeng in the early period of the Warring States, and therefore it was called the underground palace of Marquis Yi of Zeng.

This underground palace is just like a luxurious apartment with three rooms and one hall. In the east room is a main coffin and eight sacrificial coffins and in the west room is three sacrificial coffins, in the north room lays some weapons, carriage and horse implements and bamboo instruments. The middle hall is possibly the music hall and the reception hall where exist a lot of music instruments. On the doorway to the middle hall from the east room is a coffin of a dog. The palace is 21 meters long from east to west and 16.5 meters wide from north to south and 13 meters deep from the surface to the bottom with the total area of 220 square kilometers. The whole wooden enclosure outside rooms was built by using 171 large square wooden boards as the floor board, wall board and the covering board which cost the timber of Nanmu for 500 cubic maters. On the top and the four sides of the wooden coffin was stuffed with moisture proof charcoal about 60 thousand kilograms, on which covered with Qinggaoni and Baigaoni with stone board laying on it and then filled with tesselated soil to the entrance of the tomb.

Large quantities of bronzes, such as music instruments, sacrificial vessels, weapons, gold wares, jades, carriage and horse implements, painted wooden and bamboo objects and some bamboo slips were discovered in the tomb which is about 15 thousand in total and the most surprising discovery is the unearthed ancient percussion instrument-chime bells of Marquis Yi of Zeng in the graveyard which has the largest scale and is well-preserved (it is now preserved in the Museum of Wuhan of Hubei Province). Those chime bells were made of bronze with the weight of 2500 kilograms and is fine in design and grand in construction which are totally 65 pieces. Thought they have been buried in the earth for about 2400 years, they still have good tone quality. The appearance of chime bells is a big astonishment to the whole world and it was appraised as the unique treasure among the world wanders and the eighth miracle of the ancient world.           

Chime bells of Marquis Yi of Zeng is the splendid crystallization of China’s ancient civilization and its appearance fills the gap of Chinese country in archeology, the history of music and metallurgy and it enjoys a great prestige in the academic area both at home and abroad. Therefore, Suizhou was also called the land of ancient music for this reason.

This grave is the first one with the largest scale and having the accurate time among the thousands of graves of the Warring States Period unearthed in Hubei Province those years. The Large quantities of fine bronzes, such as music instruments, sacrificial vessels, weapons, gold wares, jades, carriage and horse implements, painted wooden and bamboo objects and the bamboo slips are as many as 15404 pieces and some of them are peculiar in form and meticulous in making which are the treasure never seen before and the eight ones of them are appointed to be the national treasure.

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How to Get There?
There is No. 316 national highway between Wuhan and Suizhou and you can get there by coach.

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Opening Hours:
9:00am-6:00pm

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Recommended Time for Visiting :Three Hours


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