1700-year old Silk Route tomb has carvings of known mythical beasts, but unidentified occupants

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A few days ago, we talked about a thousand-year old Chinese tomb with decorative murals but no evidence of the occupant. The case of the cryptic human remains has once again reared its mysterious head, this time in a 1,700 years old cemetery that falls on the ancient Silk Route that connected China with the Roman Empire. The cemetery was a part of the city of Kucha, which is presently located in the north-western part of China. And, beyond its burial credentials, one of the site’s tomb boasts of ancient artworks – with depictions of various mythical creatures that allude to the major Four Symbols of the Chinese constellations.

This particular tomb dubbed ‘M3’ additionally comprises of a mound, ramp, screen partitions, passage and two chambers. As for the carvings of mythical beasts, the artworks consist of – the White Tiger of the West, the Vermilion Bird of the South, the Black Turtle of the North and the Azure Dragon of the East; all representing the four different seasons as well as sections of mythic heaven.

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Such elaborate embellishments perhaps shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, since Kucha (called Qiuci in ancient Chinese sources) was considered as a strong city-state situated along the relatively secluded western ‘Xiyu’ borders of China. The city’s influence in the area was crucial since the region was not only a part of the famed Silk Route, but also contained many oases that were important for weary travelers and merchants.

However, what is arguably more puzzling relates to the missing identity of the people who were buried in the cemetery. To that end, no writings or inscriptions have been found that might have pertained to the occupants. But the Chinese historians have analyzed many of the skeletal remains, and they have concluded that the brick tombs were reused on multiple occasions – with some containing more than ten people! This odd burial pattern has tickled the interest of many a researcher – and as such, they are looking forth to continue their investigation inside the excavated site.

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Source: The findings were originally translated by Chinese Cultural Relics / Via: LiveScience

Image Credits: Chinese Cultural Relics

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