1200 yr old empress' coffin suggests deep cultural exchange on Silk Road

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New Delhi, Sep 20 (ANI): With the discovery of a 1,200 years old empress's coffin, Chinese archaeologists have apparently found new evidence suggesting international cultural exchange on the ancient Silk Road.

Four European-looking warriors and lion-like beasts have been found engraved on an empress' 1,200-year-old stone coffin that was unearthed in Shaanxi Province, in northwestern China, reports People's Daily Online.

The warriors on the four reliefs had deep-set eyes, curly hair and over-sized noses-physical characteristics Chinese typically associate with Europeans.

The 27-tonne Tang Dynasty (618-907) sarcophagus contained empress Wu Huifei (699-737), said Ge Chengyong, an expert on Silk Road studies.

Ge said one of the warriors was very much like Zues, the "father of gods and men" in Greek mythology.

The coffin was also engraved with deer, tigers and goats.

"It's noteworthy that goats signify tragedy in Greek mythology. The word 'tragedy' itself means 'song of the man-goat singer'," he said.

According to Ge, elements of Greek mythology on Empress Wu Huifei's coffin has suggested cross-cultural exchange was common in Chang'an, capital of the Tang Dynasty, located in today's Xi'an.

"There could have even been clergymen from Western countries serving in the Tang imperial court."

Wu Huifei was Emperor Xuanzong's favorite concubine and was posthumously known as Empress Zhenshun, meaning "the virtuous and serene empress." (ANI)

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