Til death do as part: Archaeologists find in China a rare 1,000-year-old grave of a coupe buried together and joined with a ‘fairy bridge’ to continue their romance in the afterlife
- Skeletons were found peacefully on the tile floor in the brick walls of central China
- Several pieces of pottery were discovered with the bodies together with a nail used to close the grave
- Hunan Archaeological Institute carried out the work for the construction of the Ningxiang-Shaoshan expressway
A 1,000-year-old grave for a couple buried along with a window cut through the dividing wall to allow them to continue their romance in the afterlife has been excavated in central China.
The man and woman were found on the tile floor of their stone-lined tomb, with their heads on a tile cushion in the ancient Tangjiawan Cemetery in Ningxiang, Hunan Province.
Several pieces of pottery were discovered with the bodies believed to have been buried during the Northern Song Dynasty (960 to 1127 AD). Including the hole in the wall or ‘fairytale bridge’ is rare in ancient Chinese burials.
Their skeletons were found in the grave, but have since been removed, according to the national newspapers China Daily and People’s Daily.
Archaeologists began excavating the grave pending plans to lay the Ningxiang-Shaoshan Highway through the site. It is expected to open for vehicles in 2022.
Two skeletons were found in this grave in the ancient Tiangjiawan cemetery near Ningxiang, Hunan Province, central China
The bodies were on tile floors and the head was on tile cushions. A ‘fairytale door’ (right) was cut between the graves, which archaeologists said were intended to communicate in the afterlife
Excavators first found the graves in 2007, but were asked to dig this year due to the construction of a highway that will plow through the old cemetery
Shown above are workers clearing mud from the stone-lined graves. Several pieces of pottery were also found inside
Lead archaeologist on the site, Yang Ningbo, said it was rare to find a pair with a ‘fairytale bridge’ in between. It is based on an old belief that the window would allow the couple to reconnect in the afterlife.
Charcoal found outside the entrance to the grave offers the chance that it could be more accurately dated through carbon dating, he said, allowing them to estimate when the pair may have settled down.
It was one of many graves discovered and researched in a cluster in Nanfentang Village by the Hunan Provincial Research Institute of Cultural Relics and Archeology.
A second grave also excavated at the site dated from the Eastern Han Dynasty, from 25 to 220 AD, and contained only 13 objects, including an iron cauldron and a standard.
The cooking items have been said to be similar to those for preparing a traditional Chinese meal known as a hotpot.
A rusted nail used to seal the grave was also found buried in the mud next to the grave. The pair are believed to have been buried during the Northern Song Dynasty in the region, a period of high population growth
Pictured above is the tiled cushion on which one of the tombs would have been lying. Two pieces of pottery are also visible
Pottery piled up on the side of the grave is shown. Cross marks have also been cut into the stones used for the grave
A separate grave nearby yielded an iron kettle and stand that archaeologists said would have been used to make a traditional Chinese dish called ‘hot pot’ at the time
The Northern Song Dynasty oversaw a period of rapid population growth in mainland China following the discovery of a fast-ripening rice variety and solidified a number of trade routes with other countries.
Emperor Taizu founded the dynasty after the collapse of the Tang regime in 960 AD and established his capital in Kaifeng.
During its nearly 200-year lifespan, the dynasty oversees the creation of printing presses with movable parts – revolutionizing European communication in the 15th century – and a more powerful type of gunpowder.
The Song court had sought peace with outsiders, but was repeatedly attacked by its Mongol neighbors led by Kublai Khan.
It collapsed ten years after Marco Polo reached Beijing in 1266 AD, where he met the Mongol ruler who had already taken control of most of the dynasty.