Ten ancient tombs constructed out of brick and mortar, some being ornately decorated, have been discovered within a 1,700 year old cemetery on the historical Silk Road, in north-west China.
The Silk Road was a major trade route that traversed a distance of over 6,437 kilometers or 4,000 miles between Europe and Asia. It was first utilized during the Han Dynasty and was ceased to be used in the mid 1400s, due to the Ottoman Empires disgust with the western world.
Located near the city of Kucha, an integral stop on one of the many branches of the long since disbanded Silk Road; that ran along the Northern Edge of the Taklman desert in the Tarim Basin. This cemetery held ten tombs, seven of which had elaborately decorated brick carvings, depicting mythological Asian creatures.
The tomb archaeologists named M3, in particular, held the most significant artwork, showing carved likenesses of the White Tiger of the West, the Vermilion Bird of the South, the Black Turtle of the North and the Azure Dragon of the East, these animals and creatures represented the many governing factors in the everyday lives of the ancient local people, including the four cardinal directions, seasons and the heavens.
Evidence of grave robbing, looting and numerous other felonious activities have been noted to occur within the archaeological site. Unfortunately, these past occurrences have purged the true identities of the original inhabitants from the pages of history.
Currently, the unidentifiable remains are not the only mystery that is being held within the brick walls of these ancient tombs, but the fact that these tombs were first used by its original owner and then were used again several other times by numerous and seemingly unrelated people. It is stated that one tomb housed as many as 10 different and unrelated occupants.
A team led by Zhiyong Yu, the director of the Xinjang Archaeological Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, had first discovered the site in 2007 and published his findings in the Journal of Chinese Relics. The amassed information had sat unnoticed for seven years by the majority of the world until recently, when the findings were translated into English and read by groups of western archaeologists that studied ancient China, but apparently did not know how to read modern Chinese writing.