Lonely Planet Writer

A huge tomb full of ancient chariots unearthed in central China

Archaeologists in China have uncovered a giant tomb full of 2400-year-old chariots and horses. The burial pit was uncovered in central China, in the city of Xinzheng, near Zhengzhou in Henan province. Scientists believe the tomb may have belonged to a noble family of the Zheng state (806–375 BC), which was a vassal kingdom that governed this part of central China during the Zhou dynasty (1100–221 BC).

Skeletons of horses found by archaeologists
Horse skeletons uncovered during the archaeological dig in Zhengzhou. Photo by Imaginechina

Inside the pit, archaeologists discovered dozens of chariots and the skeletons of around 100 horses. The leader of the dig, Ma Juncai, told Xinhua that no written records have so far been uncovered at the site, making it unclear who the burial pit belonged to, but archaeologists think it likely to have been the funeral site for a Zheng lord.

Dig unveils ancient chariots and horse skeletons
A Chinese archaeologist surveys chariots and skeletons of horses dating back to 2,400 years ago at the excavation site of the so-called No. 3 Horse and Chariot Pit. Photo by Imaginechina

Two other pits have also been uncovered nearby, with a total of 18 pits and over 3000 tombs in the surrounding area. Archaeologists have been most impressed by the scale and size of the tombs. As well, one standout chariot was described as being 2.4m long and around 1.7m wide, and adorned with bronze and bone.

Other findings within the pit, including a number of bronze artefacts, are hoped to provide more insight into the tomb’s owner as well as technological advancements of the time.