Mystery of the Human Head Burial Mounds from Ancient China
Original Chinese Language Article By: Zhou Wenguang (周文广)
(Translated by Adrian Chan-Wyles PhD)
In Yi County of Hebei province, 2.5 kilometres south of the ruins of Xiadu (the lower capital of the Yan State of the Zhou Dynasty), there are situated 14 round, rammed-earth burial mounds approximately 14 meters high, possessing a diameter of dozens of meters. Through the excavation of three of these mounds, archaeologists have discovered that these structures contain large numbers of ‘severed’ human heads. Where do these heads come from? There are no historical records referring to these mounds or the severed heads, and researchers are unable to agree upon a convincing explanation. As a matter of preservation, two of the mounds have been refilled, leaving only one open for further research. Initial excavations revealed that within a 50 square meter area, 300 human skulls were recovered, whilst within an area of 300 square meters, over 2000 human skulls were found to be buried within a single mound, with many showing signs of slash wounds, and bronze arrow-heads embedded in others.
Following expert examination, the heads have been revealed as those of young male adults, aged between 20 and 30 years of age, probably belonging to soldiers of a defeated army buried well-over 2000 years ago. The 14 mounds present something of an archaeological mystery that has left historians puzzled. One theory is that these heads might be from the defeated Qi army of 284 BCE, brought back to the Yan State by the victorious Yan general known as Yue Yi (乐毅). Another theory suggests that in 314 BCE, the Yan State was invaded by troops from the Qi State during a time of great instability due to a succession crisis. This civil strife cost tens of thousands of lives in the Yan State, and it is speculated that the victims might have had their heads buried in this manner either during the Qi occupation, or shortly after the Qi army was driven out. Despite the different viewpoints, such large scale and ancient military graves are extremely rare in the world, and the relevant experts are continuing their investigations China.
Report and Pictures: Zhou Wenguang (周文广)
©opyright: Adrian Chan-Wyles (ShiDaDao) 2016.
Original Chinese Language Source Text:
在河北省易县燕下都遗址城南2.5公里处，有14个高约10米、直径达几十米的圆形夯土墩台，通过对部分墩台的发掘，考古人员发现其中均埋葬着大量人头骨，距今约有两千多年。这些人头骨究竟从何而来？史无记载，研究者也莫衷一是。为了慎重起见，已开掘的两个墩台重新回填，仅留下一个不大的探方供保护性研究。在曾经挖掘的一个“人头墩”里，研究人员通过钻探，测出埋葬人头骨的面积为300平方米，有人头骨2000余个。而在开挖的50平方米面积内清理出的300多个人头骨上，部分人头骨有明显的砍杀痕迹，有的头骨上还插有青铜箭头。经专家鉴定，这些人头骨属于20至30岁的男性青壮年，应该是当时战败者的首级。对这14个土墩的成因，人们一直迷惑不解。有专家认为是公元前284年乐毅伐齐大胜时从战场带回的齐军首级。也有专家说这是公元前314年燕国“子之之乱”受害者的首级，当时的内乱使燕国死伤几万人，后来有人将被砍杀者的头颅埋在一起，形成了今天发现的“人头墩”。尽管存在着各种不同观点，但像这样大规模的带战争创伤的骷髅成批出土，在世界上极为罕见。目前，有关专家正在对其成因进行研究。 新华社记者 周文广 摄