A 13,500-year-old tomb with a headless woman “squatting” inside, was confirmed as the oldest Chinese tomb where the owner was laid to rest in a certain posture.
The tomb is part of the Qingtang ruins in the city of Yingde, southern China’s Guangdong Province, where Chinese archaeologists have found pottery fragments dating back about 17,000 years.
From within the tomb, archaeologists have unearthed remains of a female aged between 13 and 18 years old with her head missing for unknown reasons.
It is the oldest tomb found in China with a squatting owner or an owner whose body was deliberately placed in a specific position, said Liu Suoqiang, who heads the Qingtang ruins excavation project.
Apart from the squatting posture, the discovery of burial items, including a bone pin, inside the tomb suggests burial practices at that time followed a set of procedures and rituals, Liu told Xinhua.
“It points to the emergence of the concepts of life and death and of primitive religious beliefs,” Liu said.
The practice of burying the dead in a squatting posture has been found in prehistoric tombs in southern China and southeast Asia, which cast a major difference from northern China, where early tomb owners were usually found lying on their backs with stretched limbs.
Archaeologists are still debating on the symbolism of the squatting posture, with some suggesting it was a simulation of baby in the womb.
Meanwhile, the paleolithic pottery fragments discovered in the Qingtang ruins in the city of Yingde provide more proof that southern China might be the first region where pottery was ever produced.
More than 10,000 pieces have been unearthed in the ruins since 2016 including fossils of human bones, stoneware and pottery.
Chinese archaeologists also discovered cooking sites and separate sections for food storage and garbage dump in a 30-square-meter excavation area in the ruins.
The discoveries of the Qingtang ruins is listed as one of the top 10 Chinese archaeological discoveries in 2018. Xinhua