Gold-plated silver dragons among treasures found in Mongolian tombs

Amid countless gold, silver, bronze, jade and wood artifacts, two gilded silver dragons caught the eye of Chinese archaeologists while participating in a joint field excavation project in Mongolia.

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The two gilded silver dragons unearthed from the tombs of Xiongnu aristocrats in north-central Mongolia [Credit: Henan Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology]

The work on the tombs of the Xiongnu nobles in north-central Mongolia has entered its third year. In July, the Sino-Mongolian joint research team completed the excavation of one of 400 tombs, numbered M189, in which gilded silver dragons had been excavated.

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Dr Lan Wanli, head of the Chinese archeology team, said: “The dragons, each 8cm long and with a vertical tail-turning gesture, bear the clear characteristics of the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC). era – 25 BC),” said Dr. Lan Wanli, head of the Chinese archeology team.

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The excavation site of the tombs of Xiongnu aristocrats in north-central Mongolia
[Credit: Henan Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology]

The details of the dragon’s horns, eyes, teeth and feathers are intricately carved. Experts suspect they are decorations mounted on a decorative vase.

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Lan said the two gilded silver dragons are not only a testament to the cultural exchanges and interactions between the steppes in northern and central China, but also show that the owner of the tomb has a high status in society. Mongolia.

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He said the archaeological team had also unearthed a jade belt hook, wooden cups, leather horse harness and other household items, chariots and weapons from the mausoleum.

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“The bottom of the coffin was covered with a layer of cloth, followed by a layer of unshaved millet, some millet, covered with cloth, then a layer of unshaved millet and a large amount of sawdust, mixed well. bits of coal and chenopodium, and another layer of cloth,” he said.

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Gold ornaments retrieved from the M189 tomb [Credit: Henan Provincial
Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology]
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Turquoise and jade ornaments retrieved from the M189 tomb [Credit: Henan Provincial
Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology]

This type of arrangement was first found in the tombs of Xiongnu nobles, Lan said.

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