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article imageTomb in China contains mass human sacrifice

By Christopher Szabo     Jun 18, 2010 in Science
Beijing - A tomb containing nearly 50 victims of human sacrifice has been excavated in eastern China. The tomb is 2,500 years old, the time of the great sage, Confucius.
National Geographic News said the tomb was originally found after police caught grave robbers plundering it. The site is in the eastern province of Jiangxi. The burial chamber was built for the patriarch of an aristocratic family and contains 47 bodies, lying side by side. Xu Changquing, leader of the excavation team and a scholar at the Archaeology Institute of Jiangxi said:
"Most of those buried had been sacrificed to accompany their master into the afterlife."
According to the report, aristocrats arranged for their servants, concubines or other close to them to be sacrificed. Xu explained:
"At that time, some ruling elite believed that they could lead afterlives similar to their lives here on Earth."
Although records and other finds have shown human sacrifices, Xu said the Jiangxi tomb was:
"One of the most important archaeological finds from this era in this part of China."
The Jiangxi tomb was built in the time of the Chinese philosopher Kung Fu Tzu, known better as Confucius. Xu said about him:
"Confucius spent a lifetime criticizing blood sacrifice."
Confucius argued that humans would turn to dust eventually and so the ruler or aristocrat would have only dust around him in the afterlife. However, if one were to make statues of his favourite concubines or servants, he could look upon them forever.
Confucius lived during China’s Zhou Dynasty (770-221 B.C.) The arguments of philosophers like him eventually convinced rulers to stop human sacrifice and the First Emperor, Chin Shi Huang Di, (221-207 B.C.) had terracotta statues of his soldiers made to guard his famous tomb.
The tomb contains not only human remains. A black, gold and red sword inscribed with depictions of dragons has been found. Xu described this as:
"The most beautiful and best-preserved sword ever found in this part of China."
The archaeologists also found gold and bronze items, together with elaborate silk gowns.
Herbert Plutschow, of UCLA, an expert on China's earlier Shang dynasty said ancient China relied on sacrifice a great deal: He said:
"According to the pictographs archaeologists have been able to decipher, there were in the Shang era 37 categories of blood and food sacrifices. Leaders depended on ritual warfare, sacrifice, and ancestor worship to legitimize their rule, and some forced their retinue of servants to follow them into death. The Chinese pre-modern state was built upon sacrifice."
The National Geographic story added that mass sacrifice was part of many ancient cultures and not in unique to China.
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