The Astana Graves (Asītǎnǎ Gǔmù, 阿斯塔那古墓), nicknamed "The Underground Museum", and located 6 km (4 mi) from the ancient city of Gaochang, is the final resting place for over 1,000 inhabitants of Gaochang, both commoners and locals. The tombs cover over ten sq km (six sq mi), having been used for over 600 years between 200 CE and 800 CE.
In addition to the inhabitants of Gaochang, some tombs are the graves of several Tang Dynasty rulers, where one can find various Tang Dynasty figurines and Chinese silk paintings.Due to the high terrain and the hot climate, mummies and burial objects have been well-preserved after thousands of years. A number of historical relics have also been kept intact, including terracotta figurines, pottery, coins, tombstones and their inscriptions.
Three tombs are open to tourists—most are are entered through a ten m (32 ft) sloping staircase, in front of which the deceased were laid to rest on a raised bed, sometimes with their possessions or even food laid beside them.
The ancient city of Gaochang (Gāochāng, 高昌) is a sublimely impressive sight, likely to spur thoughts of the grand sweep of history and the insignificance..
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