Remains of chariots, 12 horses found in ancient tomb

September 3, 2011

The remains of five wooden chariots and 12 horses sacrificed to pull them in the afterlife have been discovered in a tomb in China.

The horses are lying in formation in the 3000-year-old tomb found in the Chinese city of Luoyang. The discovery dates back to the early Western Zhou dynasty.

The arrangement of the horses suggests they were killed before being placed in the tomb.

Archaeologists say the burial site, which probably belonged to an official or scholar of mid-level importance, escaped the attention of grave robbers. Bronzes and ceramics were found where they had been left 3000 years ago.

Inscriptions on the pottery and metal weaponry point to the standing of the tomb's occupant.

The vertical burial pit was unearthed during work to build to hospital, providing historians with crucial insights into the early Western Zhou dynasty, which was the time of the philosopher Confucius.

Researchers are carefully monitoring and maintaining the humidity in the pit to preserve the remains.

The wooden coffin and bones of the tomb occupant have long since disintegrated.

A remarkable series of pictures of the tomb discoveries can be viewed here.