Horses, chariots found in 3000-year-old burial

Archaeologists excavating in Luoyang, the capital of Henan Province, China, have uncovered an intact tomb including the remains of five wooden chariots and 12 horses. The remains have not been carbon dated yet, but bronze and ceramic grave goods buried with the horses and chariots date to the early Zhou dynasty (1045-256 B.C.).

Although no coffin nor human remains were found, the quality of the grave goods, inscriptions on the pottery and on the bronze weapons indicate that the person buried in the tomb was someone of middle-ranking social and political standing. The horses’ gear and chariots had elaborate fittings, some of them gilded as well.

The horses were in all likelihood killed before burial. They were positioned carefully on their sides in the vertical earthenware tomb. Had they been buried arrive (and live burials of slaves and stock were not uncommon in Zhou China, or in its predecessor the Shang Dynasty), they would have been standing and the bones not so tidily arranged.

The tomb was discovered during construction work for a new hospital in the east of Luoyang City. Right now the chariots and remains are in situ being kept constantly moist courtesy of a guy with a hose. There are some pictures of the bronzeware and ceramics found in the tomb here, and more of the guy with a hose here.