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China: Around The Nation

Construction crew in China unearths tomb with 500-year-old mummies

Buried couple believed to be related to a Ming dynasty official

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 March, 2017, 3:06pm
UPDATED : Monday, 27 March, 2017, 4:02pm

Anthropologists in central China are carefully preserving the mummies of a couple accidentally found in a tomb that is believed to date back some 500 years, mainland media reported.

The tomb was unearthed in Taikang county in Zhoukou, Henan province by a construction crew that was installing plumbing, the Dahe Daily reported.

The buried man and woman are believed to be the grandson of Gu Zuo, an official under the Ming dynasty (1368–1644), and the grandson’s wife.

The clothes the mummies wore were so well preserved that a gold-coloured pattern could still be made out on them.

Other finds at the site include a tombstone as well as two crystal coffins. However, some online posts claimed that other valuables, including swords and fans, were stolen by locals when the tomb was unearthed on March 19.

A local official denied that any valuables were stolen, saying the tomb was unlikely to have them since most officials in the Ming dynasty lived frugally because of a crackdown on corruption during the era.

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According to mainland laws protecting cultural relics, approval is needed before any infrastructure construction starts, but the crew in question had not sought permission and it remained unclear how badly the tomb had been damaged, the report said.

The local culture department said security guards had been deployed 24 hours a day to protect the scene.

Last year, a man and his nephew in northeastern China’s Shaanxi province were detained after they tried to build a cellar in their courtyard and uncovered an ancient Han dynasty (206 BC-220 AD) tomb. They were accused of stealing and selling 13 relics from the tomb.