China: Jiayuguan – Wei-Jin Mural Tombs

Besides the main two attractions of Jiayuguan – the Overhang Great Wall and the Fort – there is a little and oft-overlooked archaeological site about 20 km northeast of the city that historically is insanely important. Here, in the middle of gray and insopitable Goby Desert outskirts lie over 1400 tombs from the 3-5th century. Discovered in the 1980s, only a small portion of the tombs has been excavated and only one tomb is open for visitors. They look like nothing outside and then you descend a long corridor underground were there is a small burial room made out of bricks. Most of the bricks have well-preserved drawings and murals on them depicting the life almost 2000 years ago – pictures of animals, farming, fighting, and so on. Some of the bricks have been taken to the most famous and biggest museums in China and beyond, but here – in Jiayuguan in the middle of nowhere – lie the original tombs. Photography is not allowed so I had to pay for expensive postcards to get these pics. There is also a small museum with replicas.