Ending confusion over a name

A new archaeological discovery in Hubei province provides clues to a vassal state, Wang Kaihao reports.

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The tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng in Suizhou, Hubei province, is one of the most important archaeological discoveries since New China was founded seven decades ago.

More than 15,000 cultural relics have been unearthed at the site, among which is a set of bronze chime bells found in 1978 from the tomb of this vassal ruler of the Warring States Period (475-221 BC). Yi’s state, Zeng, is frequently mentioned on inscriptions of the unearthed bronze ware, but is missing from history books.

According to historical records, the area was ruled by the vassal state of Sui. It lasted for over seven centuries, from the early Western Zhou Dynasty (c.11th century-771 BC) through the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC) to the mid-Warring States Period. The confusion continued for long: Was the name Zeng or Sui or was it the same state?

Now new findings at the tomb complex in the Zaoshulin heritage site in Suizhou have given an answer.

An excavation organized by the Hubei Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, Peking University and the Suizhou Museum that started in October has unearthed the tombs of Marquis Bao and his wife Mijia, who were among Zeng rulers from the mid-Spring and Autumn Period.

On a bronze musical instrument called fou, there is an inscription that reads: “Daughter of Chu (a nearby powerful vassal state) king marries into Sui.”

The article is considered to be Mijia’s dowry.

“The name Sui appears in this tomb of a Zeng marquise,” Guo Changjiang, an archaeologist with the Hubei Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology, told media last week in Beijing.

“That explains they are one family. A stop can be put on the debate over Sui and Zeng,” he said.

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