Archaeologists Discover The 900-Year-Old Remains Of ‘Grand Lady’ In China In Coffin Filled With Grave Goods

Kristine Moore - Author

Oct. 20 2018, Updated 1:43 p.m. ET

Archaeologists working in Tieguai Village in China have discovered the extraordinarily well-preserved 900-year-old remains of a woman who has been given the title of “Grand Lady.” They also found that beside her body were a host of different and exquisite grave goods.

As Live Science reported, perhaps the most profound of these grave goods was what looks like a model dollhouse which was filled with miniature furniture. Also recovered from the Chinese tomb was a silver pendant that shows two dragons flying after pearls. The name “Grand Lady” was found written on a banner on the upper side of the inner coffin and the banner records that the woman, who is believed to have been named née Jian, once resided in the Ankang Commandery.

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Archaeologists who were involved with the research on this woman explained in their paper that she was was still very much intact and that “the skeleton [of the Grand Lady] is essentially preserved, complete with fingernails and hair.”

Gold and silver hairpins were still on the Grand Lady’s head after 900 years and “there were silver bracelets on her arm and a string of bronze coins on her abdomen, 83 coins altogether.” Archaeologists noted that “underneath her right hand were two zongzi [which are the remains of two sticky rice dumplings], and embroidered shoes were on her feet.”

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Archaeologists also found that there were several paintings on the inner coffin that are believed to be of the Grand Lady, with each of these showing the woman wearing different attire and accessories.

The time during which she lived has been determined by the discovery of 200 bronze coins that were found buried with her, which were in circulation between 713 and 1100 CE. Because of this, it is believed that the woman most likely died at some point after 1100 CE. This means that she would have been alive during the Song dynasty, which was a particularly good time in China for the arts, and when science and culture were at their peak.

Also found in the Grand Lady’s coffin were curious artifacts known as minqi, which are real-life objects that are created in miniature, much like the dollhouse that was discovered. Besides the dollhouse, archaeologists also recovered 10 female figurines that were donning masks and performing different functions, including playing music on their instruments.

While another coffin was found close to the Grand Lady’s, which may have been a relative, this was found to have been severely looted, and very few artifacts were still left inside.

The new paper on the discovery of the 900-year-old Grand Lady’s skeleton in China has been published in the journal, Chinese Cultural Relics.


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