The 1,700 years' old Astana Ancient Graves
(阿斯塔纳古墓群) are located in Erbao and Sanbao Villages, approximately 42 kilometers to the east of Xinjiang
Uyghur Autonomous Region's Turpan
City, the hottest place in China
. They were the burial places for the officials and civilians of the ancient Gaochang City (高昌).
The graves are shaped like a rectangle of approximately 10 square kilometers (5 km from east to west and 2 km from south to north). The tombs of burials are zones distinguished by family names. The barriers are made of natural gravels.
The form of the Astana Graves consists of sloping paths and tunnel ways. The look of the graveyard's plane is in shape of the Chinese character "甲" (roughly pronounced "Jia", which means "first"). A ten-meter-long sloping path in front of the tomb seen that leads to the chamber, where the deceased rests here forever.
Generally, the chambers in the graveyard are 2 meters height and about 4 square meters of area with flat or dome ceilings. Most dead bodies were placed in earth or on simple wooden bed that located in the back of the tomb chambers. Their heads are rested on pillows with their face covered with cloths, eyes closed and hands are grabbing the wooden edges of the beds. They are wearing cotton or silk woven garments. They are surrounded by architectural miniatures such as kiosks and pavilions, old carriages, ancient musical instruments and chesses, or food such as fruits, dumplings and cakes, for their comfortable in the afterworld life. Some chambers' back walls have murals that painted with lifelike images of people, animals and natural landscape.
Many books, paintings, pottery, and utensils made of wood, stone and gold have been excavated. The mummies found here are very eye-catching, can match by those seen in Egypt.