In Southwestern China where the Yangtze, Shinning, and Danning Rivers meet,
ancient mysteries are locked in the walls of their gorges. Thousand year old coffins are wedged into
the upper crevices. Symmetrical cuts in their walls point to an ancient walkway used for transporting
salt. Soon, these mysteries will be submerged when a dam makes the rivers' waters overflow the
Members of Chinese minority groups who lived nearly four thousand years ago are laid to rest in the hanging coffins of the three gorges.
One can hardly find iformation on these hanging coffins. I have only been able to find seven world wide web sites that even mention the hanging coffins. Yet there has been a recent influx of tourists to the three gorges. This is a result of a dam being built on the Yangtze River. Soon the dam will flood the three gorges, and the hanging coffins will be destroyed and their mystery lost to us forever. You may wonder why people would place coffins high in the cliffs, when most of the world burries or burns their dead. The concepts of Taoism and Feng-Shui suggest that a hanging coffin would rest closer to heaven than traditional underground coffins. The oldest hanging coffins date back 3,600 years, and they were found in the Wuyi mountain range. You may be wondering how the ancients hung the coffins in such remote places that, even today, it is a perilous trip for archeologists and tourists alike. The ancients built plank roads supported by bamboo pipes that transported salt water from Nanching to surrounding towns. In 1978, archeaologists unearthed a winch near Hubei province that dated back to the
Warring States period, more than 2,000 years ago. It was the first clue that suggests a
method of transporting the coffins up to the cliffs. There were many other gouges cut into the rock face. By these clues, archeologists have placed together what was once a hanging road, running parallel to the river.
I regret that I will have to cut this report short, but I shall finish it when Time permits.