Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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A Colorful Surprise Volume 55 Number 6, November/December 2002
by Jarrett A. Lobell

Recent renovations at a lowly flour factory in a southern suburb of Beijing exposed two large, igloo-shaped tombs from the Liao Dynasty (A.D. 915-1125). The tombs have exterior doors and internal false doors and windows, but what most amazed archaeologists was that one of the tombs contains remarkable frescoes of rare quality for this time and location. The frescoes depict domestic scenes, including a woman counting money and a smiling baby. Other than the frescoes, archaeologists found only ashes, small pieces of bone, and six common earthenware pots in the tomb, suggesting that despite the beauty of the paintings, the tomb's inhabitant was of average means. After excavations are completed, the tombs will be dismantled and reconstructed in the future Town Museum of Beijing.

© 2002 by the Archaeological Institute of America