Earliest Findings of Wooden Figurines in China

June 25, 2007 Updated: June 25, 2007

Recently, a Chinese archaeological team working in Hanchen City, Shaanxi Province, excavated an ancient tomb from the Zhou Dynasty ((1046-221 B.C.) and discovered many precious historical relics. Inside one chamber they found four wooden figurines with color painted design. To this day, these figurines are the earliest known in China. They have been dated 500 years older than the terracotta soldiers and horses of the Qin Dynasty (221-205 B.C.)

The cemetery of the Zhou Dynasty in Liangdai Village, Hanchen City, covers 330,000 square meters. The second excavation project began on March 23 this year. Up until now, twenty well-preserved and undisturbed tombs were excavated.

In two tombs, the archaeological team discovered a large number of cultural relics including bronze ceremonial instruments, kettles, dishes, various musical instruments, chimes, weapons, horse-drawn carriages, pottery, lacquer articles, jade-axes and other jade items.

From the layout of funerary objects and weapons in one such tomb, archaeologists think that the occupant must have been a king. Another tomb without weapons must have been the one where a woman was buried, and the woman may be the king's wife. They are not a couple because the two tombs are more than 200 meters apart.

In the four corners of the woman's tomb they discovered four wooden figurines measuring 80 centimeters. They appeared to be harnessing horse-drawn carriages from the arm position. The archaeologists suggest that the wooden figurines were the first excavated from tombs of the Zhou Dynasty and have a fairly high value.