Beijing, Nov 22 (PTI) The excavation of 112 tombs in the country’s remote Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region can push the origin of the Bronze Age culture in the Ili River Valley back by more than 1,000 years, archaeologists have said.

Of the 112 tombs, three tombs are believed to be the oldest in the region.

“One of the three tombs contains the remains of a husband and wife. They are believed to date back to the early Bronze Age, more than 4,900 years ago,” according to Ruan Qiurong, a researcher with the Xinjiang Institute of Archeology.

“The discovery can push the origin of the Bronze Age culture in Xinjiang’s Ili River Valley back by more than 1,000 years,” Ruan added.

The tombs were discovered by construction workers while building a highway in Xinjiang’s Nilka County in May this year.

Besides the three tombs, other tombs are believed to date back to the time ranging from the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC) to the Han Dynasty (202 BC-220 AD).

Archaeologists have only found 96 cultural relics, including bronze wares, ironware, bone objects and pottery, during the two-month excavation, Ruan said, adding that tombs had been looted by raiders.

The position of the human remains in the tombs drew the interest of archaeologists. Some were lying with their legs bent, while others lay on their sides with bended legs.

Ruan said that the posture was related to burial customs prevalent at the time.

Archaeologists will compare the new discovery with similar tombs found along the lower reaches of the Ili River in Kazakhstan to study the cultural exchange between China and the West in the early period, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.