Ancient smoke-absorbing lamps found in China

Archaeologists in China have unearthed two 2,000-year-old smoke-absorbing bronze lamps in the country’s east Jiangxi Province, an important discovery which suggests Chinese lamp-makers were capable of making designs to reduce air pollution millennia before it made headlines worldwide.

The lamps that can “swallow” smoke were excavated at a noted Western Han Dynasty (206 BC—24 AD) Haihunhou cemetery. The lamps are in the shape of a goose catching a fish in its mouth with light attached to the fish.

Smoke emitted during the burning of wax can enter the bird’s body via an intake on the fish, travel through its neck and be dissolved by water stored in its hollow belly, Xin Lixiang, who leads the excavation team, told state-run Xinhua news agency on Thursday.

Artwork and ancient innovation

“It is both an artwork and an example of ancient innovation,” Mr. Xin said, adding that the lamps can be dismantled for cleaning and have swinging lamp shades to adjust brightness.

The Han Dynasty was the heyday for Chinese bronze lamps, but such smoke-absorbing designs were probably afforded only by high nobles.

The two lamps were found in September in the tomb of “Haihunhou” (Marquis of Haihun).

Most complete cemetery ever found

Located near provincial capital Nanchang, Haihunhou cemetry is the most complete Western Han Dynasty cemetery ever discovered in China.

It covers roughly 40,000 square metres and contains eight tombs and a burial site for horses used to pull chariots.

Its main tomb is thought to belong to Liu He, grandson of Emperor Wu, whose reign ushered in one of the most prosperous periods in China’s history. Liu was given the title “Haihunhou” after he was deposed as emperor after only 27 days. The site’s excavation started in 2011 and is ongoing.

Artefacts unearthed so far include nearly 3,000 wooden tablets and bamboo slips and a large number of bronze, gold and jade items.

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Printable version | Dec 1, 2020 9:13:00 AM |

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