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Journeys in Time 2010-09-16 A mysterious ancient building Part 2

09-16-2010 17:35 BJT


Today, we’re continuing our series, all about a mysterious ancient building called the Dressing Tower, on the vast grasslands of Guyuan County in Hebei Province.

In ancient times, Guyuan was situated on the outer extremities of the Central Plains region, at a place where farming and herding communities met. Here, at various times in history, different regimes held sway; Khitan, Jurchen and Mongolian. Guyuan County was even a summer resort for the rulers of the Liao, Jin and Yuan Dynasties. In the summer of 1999, archaeologists working at the site of the Dressing Tower, made an astonishing discovery: It transpired that the building was not, as had been thought, part of a Liao or Yuan dynasty palace, but a memorial hall marking the site of an ancient tomb. In order to reveal more about the mysterious mausoleum, the archaeologists decided to expand their excavation.

The archaeologists were naturally disappointed to discover the damage done to the tomb. However, there was still something inside that really excited them; the coffin. It was quite unusual, having been fashioned by splitting a tree trunk into halves.

Further excavation and research would lead to the tomb’s occupants being identified. This is turn would provide important information for learning about Yuan Dynasty burial customs.

For centuries, the lonely tower on the grassland of Guyuan, had been part of the local folklore. Popularly known as the Dressing Tower, it was shown, during the excavation of October 1999, to mark the site of a tomb – the last resting place of three people; one man and two women. The Dressing Tower is very important in the study of Mongolian culture and history, not least because it contains the only known example of a tree trunk burial in China – something only previously known about through historical records. But even after identifying the tomb’s occupants as Mongolian nobles, the researchers were still left with a number of other questions to answer. For example, why did the building resemble a huge Mongolian yurt and, at the same time, a European castle?

These questions would only be answered, after the archaeologists expanded their investigations to the surrounding area.

Editor:James |Source: CNTV

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