Solving the mysteries of what the earth reveals

By Yang Feiyue and Sun Ruisheng | China Daily | Updated: 2022-12-13 06:34
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An ancient pottery figure's head found in a tomb cluster in Datong, Shanxi province. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Field excavation of the tomb complex lasted for three months, and then came years of arduous and delicate restoration and research work indoors.

Broken pottery was cleaned, numbered, pieced together, restored, mapped and scanned.

Various specimens were tested, analyzed and counted. Notes kept during the excavation were studied, analyzed and compared with related existing archaeological findings, Gu explains. The work has already lasted for nine years. "It's very rigorous and ponderous," Gu says.

A simple brief in the form of a 5,000-word paper on the M113 excavation illustrates nearly a decade of research efforts by the archaeological team.

A seemingly ordinary photograph or line drawing is the result of a rigorous examination, and a few paragraphs of concluding remarks must give a comprehensive account of the past burial, Gu says.

Each burial was not an independent entity, and must be compared with burials in the surrounding areas of the same period to reach a conclusion, she adds.

Gu compares the work to drawing genealogy.

"It is like introducing a person. You need to involve his or her parents, brothers, relatives, close neighbors and friends before summarizing the data," Gu says.

All the work on the tomb cluster is expected to be finished in two or three years.

"It will be of important value for future academic research," Gu says.

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