Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Buried Bureaucratica Volume 50 Number 3, May/June 1997
by Spencer P.M. Harrington

Tens of thousands of bamboo strips and wooden boards recording judicial, accounting, and regional government matters dating between A.D. 232 and 238 in the Three Kingdoms period have been found in an ancient well during construction in the southern Chinese city of Changsha. The upper part of the well shaft had collapsed, sealing the documents in an airtight layer of earth. It is unclear why the records were placed there. The bamboo strips have between 30 and 40 characters each, the boards between 80 and 120. The number of documents found here is believed to be more than the total unearthed elsewhere in China this century.

© 1997 by the Archaeological Institute of America