New Delhi, March 23 : Archaeologists have unearthed 604 tombs belonging to Qin Dynasty in Qujia Village, near Xi'an in China, which are believed to be the largest discovered in the country till date.
Excavations were undertaken ahead of a railway improvement project in Shaanxi Province.
"I was astounded by the sheer number of tombs," said Sun Weigang, a researcher with the Shaanxi Institute of Archaeological Research. "We know Shaanxi is rich in cultural relics, with over a thousand tombs unearthed every year. But we have never found so many in such a small area," he added.
Most of the tombs are of ordinary people and do not contain particularly valuable objects, but are of enormous interest to archeologists researching the social life of the period.
A vast collection of pottery and bronze ware has been unearthed including cauldrons, pots, jars, axes and swords, as well as more than 200 complete human skeletons.
According to Chen Liang, associate professor of Archaeology, Northwest University, "The remains are mainly of adult men who died from natural causes. They don't appear to have had a close clan relationship with each other."
Archaeologists hope the discovery of the tombs will help them locate the site of the ancient Qin Dynasty city of Liyi.
It had been thought that Liyi was near a village called Liuzhai, based on sporadic discoveries of Qin relics.
"But the tombs are over 5 kilometers away from Liuzhai Village, and the custom of the time was to locate burial grounds close to the city," said an archaeologist.
According to some natives of Qujia Village, they knew there was an ancient city nearby. Villagers often found jars and pots in the fields but thought it was bad luck to take them home.