From 2016 August, Shanxi Provincial Institute of Archaeology conducted the excavation at the Dongzhuang village, Houma City in Shanxi Province. The excavation covered an area of over 1200 square meters, from which 14 tombs in total were uncovered. 6 of them were constructed with bricks and the remaining 8 were cave-chamber tombs.
Well-preserved brick-chamber tombs M9, M12 and M14
Three brick-tombs were preserved in a good condition. Tomb M9 was composed of a tomb passage, a tomb gate and a chamber. The passage was dug into an elongated shaft, located to the south of the chamber. The bottom of the passage was levelled up with that of the chamber. The gate, located at the southeast corner of the chamber, was sealed by narrow grey bricks. The top of the chamber was arc dome. A lattice door named "geshan" (separating with fans that have window above the door) was engraved on the north wall, while neither the east nor the west walls were decorated. A niche was built into the south wall, in which a white-glazed lamp bowl was placed. The east part of the chamber was linked to the gate by a vaulted passage, while in the west part there was a brick bed. As the tomb was water-soaked, not much was known about funerary utensil and grave goods.
Tomb M12 was also consisted of a passage, a gate and a chamber. The tomb chamber was fully decorated with mural. The passage was located south to the chamber and constructed as a shaft. The passage and the chamber were levelled at the bottom. The gate was sealed by narrow bricks. It was located at the southeast corner of the chamber. The foundation of the gate was built by grey bricks, upon which there were a doorsill, columns and lintel. The chamber was 1950cm long from south to north, 1770cm wide from west to east, the plan of which thus was rectangular. A vaulted passage was located at the north wall between the gate and the passage. The chamber had an octagonal pyramidal roof. A bed was built of bricks with no decoration, upon which two human skeletons were placed. Both of them were north headed, and were in extended supine position. The grave goods include a tiger-shaped porcelain pillow, a white-glazed dish, and 2 white-glazed lamp dishes. M12 is the only tomb with murals. The base colour was white, while the red, yellow and black were further added into decoration.
Tomb M14 composed of a passage, a gate and a chamber. The passage was constructed south to the chamber as a shaft with steps. It levelled with the chamber and its north end was sealed by narrow bricks. The gate was constructed at the southeast corner of the chamber. Resembling that of the tomb M12, it was built upon the foundation, and engraved with a solid door image. The middle of the lintel was decorated with a flower-shaped door pin and 4 columns of door nails, where there were 4 nails in each column were decorated in the door. The top of the door was in a bridge-shape. The plan of the chamber was square-shaped, each side of which was approximately 1800cm long. Towards the top of each wall, different types of supporting beams were constructed including the corner type and the in-between type. The roof of the chamber was also in octagonal pyramidal shape. Two skeletons were placed on the brick bed of the tomb, heading to south and in extended supine position. The left humerus and radius of the individual on the east was found in disorder, suggesting of a secondary burial. Only one white-glazed lamp dish was found on the engraved brick of the south wall.
Remaining brick –chambered tombs M7 and M10
The remaining parts of the tomb M7 suggest that it composed a passage, a gate and a chamber. The passage was north to the chamber and dug into as if a shaft. It was sealed by narrow bricks towards its end leading to the gate. Its bottom was levelled with that of the chamber. The gate had an arch top. In the southwest corner stands a column made of bricks, the top of which was decorated with supporting beams. The floor was preserved in the area near the column, which was probably paved with square bricks.
Tomb M10 was consisted of a passage, a gate and a chamber. The passage was connected to the chamber on the south and was dug like a shaft pit. The north end of the passage was sealed with bricks. The gate was partially destroyed with only the foundation part remained. The plan of the chamber was in a square shape, with each side being about 2280cm. There were traces of support beams on the north wall, of which details were not clearly indicated. There was no skeletons and grave goods found.
M1, M2, M3, M4, M6, M8, M11 and M13 were cave-chamber tombs, all of which were consisted of chambers and passages in the south. More precisely, two types of tombs are further recognized according to the location of the passage. Among tombs M1, M2, M4, M8 and M13, the passage was ended in the middle of the south wall of the chamber, thus presenting a plan like the reversed character “凸” , while tombs M3, M6 and M11 had their passages at the southeast corners of the chambers, forming a shape like character “刀”. Tomb M8 was totally destroyed and M13 was reintered. There were human remains in the remaining 6 tombs, each of them containing 2 to 4 skeletons. In tomb M4 and M11, there were discoveries of iron nails, which seemingly suggest the existence of funerary utensil, they were not found in other tombs. Human skeletons were directly placed on the floor, heading to the north and in extended supine position. The skeleton from tomb M11 was likely burnt. The grave goods were black- and white-glazed lamp dishes in general.
To sum up, the uncovered 14 tombs were composed of both Song-Jin Dynasty brick-chambered tombs with wood imitation structure and cave-tombs. Among them, several brick tombs were elaborately built, especially tomb M12 which was decorated with murals. As there was no direct evidence from the excavation casting light upon the exact dates of these tombs, comparisons were made between them and those tombs within the same region. It is found that the mural in tomb M12 resembled that of the Dali tomb at Houma from the Jin Dynasty (AD 1180) whereas the tomb M14 shared a similar style in carving and decoration with the tomb M102 at the Dong family cemetery at the Niucun village(AD 1196). Therefore it can be tentatively speculated that these tombs were dating back to the Jin Dynasty. Apart from those gorgeously decorated brick tombs, the discoveries of cave-chamber tombs also contribute to our knowledge about this particular type of tomb during the Song and Jin Dynasties. (Translator: Dong Ningning)