An enormous graveyard has been found in north China in the Hebei Province which has astonished researchers. According to the Chinese media more than hundred graves have been found close to the Beifudi archeological site. Human settlement at the same place goes back to the Neolithic period about ten millenniums ago. However these freshly discovered graves are thought to be a little more than two millenniums old. The graves usually have urn-sort funerals, a way for burying the deceased in man-sized clay containers.
Most intriguing – and grotesque – of all? Almost all the graves (apart from six) had skeletons of two, or three years old children. Taking into consideration that the grave contains solely such a particular and restricted statistic, it’s possible that the kids were planned as some kind of sacrifice or funeral ceremony.
Not many objects have been discovered there besides the urns, which suggests that this was no conventional tomb. In the majority of the other royal tombs in China and in other places, the kings are normally buried together with their symbols of riches and supremacy. These infants are buried almost by themselves in their grotesque group grave, but the bodies have been cautiously cut up. The heads and the limbs of all infants were cut and put in different urns before the other parts of their bodies were put into bigger urns.
Li Jun, a prehistorian from Shanxi University, disclosed to Xinhua that there are several possible explanations behind this kind of a mass graveyard of infants: epidemic, fatigue from compulsory work, or some kind of sacrificial rite. Li states the grave could be connected to the legend of Xu Fu, a royal magician ordered by the Qin Dynasty king Qin Shi Huang to discover the elixir of eternal life. The legend says that Xu Fu got 500 young men and 500 young women with him and went east by ship. Nobody of them came back, however according to the legend they went and stayed in Japan. Furthermore after some time Qin Shi Huang later went to Xu Fu and took another 3000 young people with him for the trip, and nobody of this group as well ever came back.
Although the myth of Xu Fu has definitely been modified throughout the time as all legends and old stories do, possibly something in the story may be true. Is this the grave of hundreds infants from the tale? What are the reason and the cause of their death? Maybe the examination of the graves will one day clarify these questions and the myth of Xu Fu.