Palace Museum to restore Marquis Haihun relics

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China's Palace Museum will participate in the protection efforts of the royal tombs of the Marquis of Haihun, which date back to the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 24), said Palace Museum curator Shan Jixiang on his recent trip to Nanchang, Jiangxi province.

In its findings released on Nov 4, the Jiangxi provincial institute of archaeology said the tombs of the Marquis of Haihun are roughly 40,000 square meters in total size and contain eight tombs and a chariot burial site.

One of the first steps the Palace Museum will take in its restoration efforts is to help repair bronzeware unearthed from the site of the tombs, Shan said.

"It is urgent that we employ modern technologies to maintain the excavated cultural relics in a stable condition," he said."The Palace Museum will definitely share in that responsibility."

The Palace Museum, housed in the Forbidden City in Beijing, is China's largest institute for the renovation of cultural relics. Its experts are internationally renown for their expertise in the restoration of ancient bronzeware, ancient Chinese paintings, calligraphy works and antique timepieces. They are also known for their replication of ancient Chinese drawings. Several of the museum's restoration techniques are under National Intangible Cultural Heritage protection.

Lu Xinshe, governor of Jiangxi province, said on Jan 25 in his government report that the province will develop the area surrounding the royal tombs into a major tourist attraction. Xu Changqing, director of the Jiangxi provincial Archaeological Research Institution, said a national archaeological park will be built on the site.

"We are also looking to file an application to secure the Marquis of Haihun tomb area as a UNESCO World Heritage site."

In mid-January, researchers and archaeologists lifted the main coffin to the Marquis of Haihun cemetery and transported it to a research lab about a kilometer from the tomb site.

A source close to the research team said preliminary scans and examinations show a large amount of precious items, such as jade relics, in the coffin.

"There will be surprises," said the source, who asked to be anonymous.

Archaeologist studying the cultural relics recently said that based on the evidence they have uncovered - such as a text inscribed on some bronzeware - it is highly possible the tomb belongs to Marquis Haihun Liu He (92-59 BC), the grandson of Emperor Wu, considered the greatest ruler of the Han Dynasty.

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