The Ancient Tombs of Jinlianshan and Xueshan Mountain in Chengjiang County, Yuxi

Why is the Ancient Tombs of Jinlianshan and Xueshan Mountain So Special?

Jinlianshan Mountains is to the east side of Jiucheng Village, Yousuo Township, Chengjiang County. This small and isolated mountains is about three kilometers from county downtown. It is at an elevation of 1,806 meters. The vertical height from the bottom to the top of the mountains is about 56 meters. In the Ming and Qing dynasties, the old town was the host to local government. In 1571, the government was moved to the new town. In history, the mountains used to be a famous scene that was called “golden lotus holding the sun”, because when the sun was setting, red light shone all over the mountains and the wild lotus grown on the mountains seemed to hold the sun.

The Exploration of History

On March 2, 2006, targeting at the increasing grave robbing, the Archaeology Institute of Yunnan Province, Cultural Relics Administration Bureau of Yuxi, and Culture and Sports Office of Chengjiang County started a three-month long rescuing excavation which aimed at the top of the mountains due to frequent robbing of graves there. One hundred and forty-four graves of about 2,000 square meters were excavated, with 600 pieces or sets of items discovered that included round decorative buttons, copper hoes, dagger-axes, swords, horse-carriage equipments, earthwares, and painted potteries.

Judged from these relics, like the grave site in the Lijiashan Mountains, the site in the Jinlianshan Mountains also belongs to ancient Dian Kingdom. The making of crafts, however, has changed considerably, which fills many gaps in the bronze ware studies of the Yunnan Kingdom.

From October 15 to December 13 in 2008, the Provincial Cultural Relics Department, the Provincial Archaeology Institute, Yuxi Cultural Relics Administration Bureau, Chengjiang Cultural Affairs Office, and Chengjiang Cultural Relics Administration Office jointly conducted the first-phase investigative excavation. The second-phase excavation started on February 13, 2009, and archaeological experts from Archaeology Center of Jilin University and experts in physical anthropology, pathology, DNA, and dietetics participated in the excavation.

With the progress in excavation, the unique landscape of the grave site shocked the experts. Li Boqian, an archaeology professor from China Archaeology Center of Beijing University, said after his visit to the site that it resembled Ruins of the Yin Dynasty discovered in Henan Province. The comparison to the most important archaeological discovery in Chinese history suggests that the excavation of the Jinlianshan Mountains plays a significant role in study of Chinese history and the bronze ware culture of the Yunnan Kingdom.

Features

Compared with other bronze ware graves in China, the graves in the Jinlian Mountains have their own special characteristics.

First, it is the largest grave site discovered so far in archaeological excavation of the Dian bronzeware culture with a scale of 100,000 square meters and discovered graves more than 1,000.

Second, of secondary burial, headless burial, arm-folded burial, armless burial, and multi-burial seen in the graves of the Jinlianshan Mountains, coffins were not found. The burial customs presented in these graves are similar to those descended from the Shang and Zhou dynasties and they also integrate burial customs and rituals of bronzeware times in different parts of China. The grave site that has mixed burial styles in a large scale will create a new path for the study of bronzeware culture of the Dian Kingdom.

In addition, a great number of intact human remains and skeletons, which are rarely seen in other archaeological excavations of the Yunnan bronze ware culture. With participation of experts in physical anthropology, pathology and other fields, ages, sexes, causes of death, and even clan, social conditions and dieting habits of the Yunnan people can be speculated.

The Meaning of Exploration

Articles that were never seen in other grave sites of the Yunnan bronze ware culture were also found, such as musical instruments made of bones and skeptical acupuncture tools. Archaeologists discovered skeptical acupuncture tools in emptied animal bones and the diameter of the smallest one is only 0.2 millimeter which is smaller than the one unearthed from the tomb of Liu Sheng in Mancheng City in Hebei Province. It is also the finest metal thread identified among all discovered items from the Yunnan Kingdom. If these tools are proven to serve acupuncture, the history of Chinese acupuncture can be dated earlier.

The excavation in the Jinlianshan Mountains not only provides abundant materials for study of social situation, culture and burial customs of the Dian Kingdom, but also opens a new channel to reveal mysteries of the Dian Kingdom.

The well-preserved skeletons and unique burial customs and rituals discovered in the Jinlianshan Mountains shocked experts and they supplement discoveries of the Lijiashan Mountains. The grave sites in the two locations provide sufficient materials for the study of ancient Yunnan Kingdom.

Best Time to Visit

It’s suitable to visit all-year-round, but winter is a especially good time to visit because of clear weather and warm temperature.

How to Get There

Accommodation at the Ancient Tombs of Jinlianshan and Xueshan Mountains