A "rescue excavation" of a tomb in China discovered treasures more than 2,100 years old that once belonged to the eldest son of the first Han Emperor Gaozu Liu Bang.
Bronze elephant and rhinoceros figurines and a life-sized chariot were found among 10,000 artifacts belonging to Liu Fei, the Prince of Qi, who died in 128 B.C. during the 26th year of his rule. His kingdom, known as Jiangdu — part of the Chinese empire — is located in modern-day Xuyi County in Jiangsu, China, according to CBS News.
"Many of these cultural relics have not been found before," said the excavation team from Nanjing Museum.
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Archeologists excavated the tomb between 2009 and 2011, calling it a "rescue excavation" because the site was set to be quarried. The team's findings were published in the journal Chinese Archeology. Forbes reported
that the original article was published in 2012, however it was only recently translated into English.
The tomb has been raided more than once, and Liu Fei's coffin unfortunately no longer contained a body. The coffin itself, however, was a highly rare find, as it was made of jade.
"Near the coffins many jade pieces and fragments, originally parts of the jade burial suit, were discovered," the team wrote. "These pieces also indicate that the inner coffin, originally lacquered and inlaid with jade plaques, was exquisitely manufactured."
The 60-acre site contained a multitude of artifacts archeologists say are evidence of what is perhaps the earliest evidence of international trade. In addition to 100,000 banliang coins, China’s first national currency, the team also found bells, zithers, iron swords, crossbows, gold-gilded lamps, wine vessels, and more. Altogether, the excavation emptied out "three main tombs, 11 attendant tombs, two chariot-and-horse pits, [and] two weaponry pits."
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