A 1700 year old cemetery was discovered along the ancient Silk Road in China in July 2007. The Silk Road was a historical international trade route between China and the Mediterranean. The cemetery consisted of 10 tombs, seven of which were large brick structures that also included a burial mound, ramp, sealed gate, screen walls, burial chamber and side chamber.
The excavation is being completed by the Xinjiang Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology and local authorities. The identity of who was buried in the tombs was a complete mystery to researchers as none of them contained documents or inscriptions of any sort. Though they did find carvings of mythical creatures such as the Black Turtle of the North, Vermilion Bird of the South, Azure Dragon of the East, and White Tiger of the West. Other tombs contain carvings of various other mythical creatures representing the different seasons and heavens. All tombs showed evidence of having been robbed long ago.
After extensive research and analysis of skeletal remains found in the tombs, archaeologists discovered that the they had been reused many, many times. Layer upon layer of skeletal remains dating back to different periods were found in each tomb.
Further details of the discoveries will be published in the Journal of Chinese Cultural Relics as they become available.