CHENGDU — After 17 years of effort, archaeologists in Southwest China’s Sichuan province said on Jan 8 they have restored a “dragon bed” believed to be used by an ancient king 2,500 years ago.
The bed, 2.55 meters long, 1.3 meters wide and 1.8 meters tall, is the oldest and the best-preserved lacquered bed ever unearthed in China, said Yang Tao, an assistant researcher with Chengdu Cultural Relics and Archaeology Research Institute.
Featuring cinnabar dragon patterns on the side, the bed consists of 45 parts, with the largest 3.2 meters long and the smallest only 20 centimeters. All components are solidly connected by mortise and tenon joints.
The bed was unearthed in 2000 in a tomb complex discovered in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan.
“Parts of the bed were scattered in a number of boat-shaped coffins at the time of the discovery, and it took archaeologists and their staff 17 years to restore the bed to its original form to the best of their ability, using various techniques,” said Xiao Lin, who heads the restoration department of the institute.
“Based on its structure and patterns, the bed is very likely to have been used by an ancient king of Shu State, who ruled the region in the early Warring States Period 2,500 years ago,” said Yan Jinsong, an archaeologist who headed the excavation work of the tomb complex. “The signs that makers left on the bed are highly related to the language used in the Shu State, offering new and valuable clues to archaeologists keen to decode the mysterious ancient language.”