Friday, July 13, 2007
Beijing, July 11: "Chinese archaeologists excavating a 2,500-year-old tomb in east China's Jiangxi province have discovered several pieces of rare green crystal lodged in the bones of 47 skeletons in the coffins, the state media reported today.
One of the diamond-shaped crystals was 8.5 centimetres long. Archaeologists said the crystals appeared to have "grown" in the bones.
The coffins also contained bronze, gold, silk, porcelain and jade items and even body tissue. They pointed out that the coffins were made from halved nanmu, a rare and extremely durable wood, and covered in white plaster and a layer of loess.
The fact that the coffins were fire-heated to make them waterproof and airtight may be a factor in the creation of the crystals. Classically, crystals are formed when rocks are heated and then cool slowly over time.
Archaeologists said there were no previous records of green-coloured crystals being found in tombs and said they would help scientists understand changes to the human body in different conditions.
Discovered in December 2006, the tomb in Lijia village in Jing'an county in Jiangxi is 16 metres long, about 11.5 metres wide and three metres deep. It is believed to date back to the eastern Zhou dynasty (770-221 B.C.), Xinhua news agency reported."