Dulan County Tibetan Royal Tomb Group

World Monuments Watch
Reshui, Dulan County, Qinghai Province, China

2000 World Monuments Watch

In this region, once part of the Tibetan empire, there are many Buddhist and shamanistic sacred sites, but the tomb in Reshui Township is one of the only royal Tibetan tombs that has been excavated by archaeologists – first in 1982-1985 and again in 1994-1996. The partial excavations revealed a valuable collection of ancient silk textiles and garments, many from Central Asia and Byzantium. The burial chambers have not yet been uncovered. The tomb's many artifacts and structural integrity have yielded considerable information on an otherwise rarely studied period of Tibetan history. Fortunately, expert archaeological work to date has ensured that the structures remain intact, thus allowing for easier archaeological investigation in the future. However, the site faces a serious immediate threat from looters, who have brazenly attempted to dynamite an entrance into the main tomb. Appeals have been made for salvage excavation, but funds are needed to proceed; the artifacts that have already been unearthed also require urgent conservation.

Since the Watch

Archaeological activity has been uninterrupted in Dulan County, and a site museum was constructed and opened in 2005. Several hundred more tombs, dating from the same era, have since been discovered.

Last updated:
January 2011

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