Colorful Murals Cover A 1,000-Year-Old Chinese Tomb


Tom Hale


Tom Hale

Senior Journalist

Tom is a writer in London with a Master's degree in Journalism whose editorial work covers anything from health and the environment to technology and archaeology.

Senior Journalist

One of the most ornately drawn murals from the tomb. Chinese Cultural Relics. 

Every culture has a different way of commemorating death, from the downright gruesome to the explicitly ornate. But here’s a charmingly quirky and understated one from Datong City of Shanxi province, northern China.

The discoveries were made by a Datong Municipal Institute of Archaeology team, who documented their findings in the journal Chinese Cultural Relics. Their excavation originally took place in 2007, but has only recently been translated into English, as Live Science reports.


The colorful mural-covered tomb was found along with a handful of ceramics. Kept away from centuries of sunlight and weathering, the murals have retained much of their vibrancy and still clearly depict the finely drawn characters.

The tomb was sealed with bricks after the cremated urn was placed within it. Chinese Cultural Relics. 

The scenes mainly show domestic settings, whether it be servants or people doing housework. Another portion of the mural features the iconic ancient Chinese imagery of a crane. Images of this bird come with a variety of symbolism depending on their setting, but they are most commonly associated with longevity, wisdom, age, and good luck.

The entrance was originally sealed up with bricks, seen in the photograph above, meaning that the researchers were forced to enter through a hole in the roof. Once inside, they found themselves in a circular room with an urn in the middle, which contained cremated human remains.


There’s no text within the tomb, however it’s believed to be dated from sometime in the Liao Dynasty (CE 907–1125). They also think it’s possible this is the tomb of a husband and wife.


  • tag
  • death,

  • archeology,

  • art,

  • dead,

  • Asia,

  • tomb,

  • painting,

  • ancient history,

  • ancient China,

  • mural,

  • urn