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Cave excavation seen as informative on early Tibetan funeral customs

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(, Apr25’22) – A cave site excavated in 2021 in Shigatse City of Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) yields important information for the study of early Tibetan funeral customs, reported China’s official Apr 24, citing the region’s Cultural Relics Protection Research Institute.

The site, known as the Dingqiong cave, contains hundreds of human and animal bones and is located in the city’s Zhongba (Tibetan: Drongpa) County. It is in the county’s Qiongguo Township, China News Agency, Lhasa, earlier reported Apr 13.

Chilie Ciren (Thinley Tsering?), a researcher with the institute, has said there were more than 300 animal bones in the upper cave and at least 100 human bones in the lower cave. Besides, there are about 20 cultural relics in the cave, including relics of pottery, copper, iron, bamboo and textiles, he has added.

The report said the ruins dated back to 221BC-220, when Qin and Han dynasties ruled in China (with no known contact with Tibet), and that the site has been recognized as an early cave cluster of tomb remains.

Based on the preliminary judgment of the age of the site and a small number of unearthed relics, the archaeological culture of the Dingqiong cave site is similar to that of the neighboring Mustang in the southern foot of the Western Himalayas and the early archaeological culture of the Ngari area in western Tibet, said the China News Agency report.

The reports cited experts as saying this kind of tomb remains was rare in Xizang and they provided important information for the study of early Tibetan funeral customs, giving the discovery a great academic significance for the study of the early history of western Tibet and cross-cultural exchanges in the Himalayan mountains.

The report cited Tsering as saying the archaeological team was currently conducting multidisciplinary research on samples collected from the site, including physical anthropology, zoology, ancient DNA archaeology and cave research.


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