introduction and legend

About this list:

During the fieldwork campaigns carried out in the framework of a previous research project the author was able to collect new data on the Tibetan tumulus tradition, namely to come across a number of grave fields in Central Tibet that were previously unknown to the research. The research was on the Tibetan clan history (FWF P 18711, 2006-11) with the identification and localisation of the old lineage territories as the first objective. In fact, it was a logical conclusion to see the new findings as related to the Tibetan clans, more precisely as evidence of the lineages’ home territory, although only in a few cases does the data from textual sources and the field make it possible to speculate on the lineage the burial grounds may have belonged to (see Hazod 2007a, b; 2009 for a first description of these new findings). Later, high-resolution satellite imagery became increasingly accessible and eventually formed the main tool for identifying additional fields, work that is still in progress. In fact, the identification of about two-thirds of the present list (with c.350 fields) is based on such aerial archaeological information, although the greater part has still not been visited on site. At the same time, in continuation of earlier (from the 1980s, and 1990s) the Lhasa-based Cultural Relics Bureau (CRB) of the Tibet Autonomous Region has started a new survey of data collection on bang so in Central Tibet, the results of which were included in a recent publication (Xizang Wenwu Dituji (XWD), Tibetan Cultural Relics Atlas, 2010). The listing in this atlas differs in some degree from our collection as it is somewhat smaller with regard to the area of Central Tibet; several of the major fields are missing and the information on the sites is more or less restricted to the geographical position, which unfortunately is only roughly given, without GPS data. On the other hand, some fields that were new to us are indicated, and if specifiable with GPS values they have been included in this list. We discussed some of our findings with Shakya Wangdu, the leading representative of the CRB, a first and still insufficient exchange of data during two brief meetings in 2009 and 2010. The different ways in which the individual sites were discovered have been noted accordingly in the list. In addition some basic details of the burial grounds are indicated. The list, with its consecutive numbering of sites, is ultimately intended to form a basic reference tool not only within the present TTT website and its internal links to further information but also when discussing the Tibetan tumulus sites in future publications.

The principal types of the grave fields’ topographical settings (FT):

FT-A: Location of the cemeteries in the non-arable zones, usually in the upper or lower part of the fan-shaped niches of the valley and settlement area. This is by far the most common type.
FT-B: Position of tombs on hillocks (at the edge of the valley or the alluvial zones), or somewhere higher up in the rocky regions.
FT-C: Position of the grave field or of individual tombs within the arable zone. The burial mounds are surrounded by fields and situated next to a hamlet or village, although it remains uncertain whether the land around was already cultivated at the time of the tomb’s construction.
With the exception of the FT-C types all fields are above the valley floor overlooking the arable land and the houses of the living.

Principal mound types (MT):

MT-A.1: The round tomb, with a round or oval ground-plan. This is usually smaller (2 to 10m). (The burial chamber is covered with layers of earth, or a series of concentric earth walls abutting each other and tapered towards the top (cf. Chan 1994: 362 with respect to field 011). Often the mound above the chamber is of a mixture of stone and earth, and in some cases apparently mainly stones pebbles were used, = MT-B).
MT-A.2: In principle a similar shape as MT-A(1) but with a flattened top, and usually on trapezoidal plan. Larger mounds (up to 50m) of this type evidently have an inner construction similar to MT-C(1).
MT-C.1: The coffer-shaped, walled tomb; the tamped earth above the chamber(s) is enclosed by one or more thick walls made of a mixture of stone (or stone slabs) and earth, often reinforced by timber. The space between the walls is filled with stones (or stone pebbles) and earth.
MT-C.2: Similar to MT-C(1), only that three sides of the construction are covered in earth to accent the hill or mountain-like shape.
Tombs of the MT-C types are quadrilateral, mostly trapezoidal. They are to be found in the three categories of small (5-20m), medium (20-35m) and large (up to 135m). All types of mounds represent mountain-like constructions, where in the case of trapezoid structures, quasi in conformity to the mountain behind, with the longer front side facing down to the valley floor. Usually the height of a larger tomb is not more than 10m. Some of the mounds (namely of the MT-A.2 or MT-C.1 type) were built on an artificial platform, which gives the impression of a stepped construction.
MT-D: The stupa-shaped tomb. No details of the inner construction of this type of tomb are known, which is mentioned in the texts in connection with Buddhist representatives of the Tibetan Royal House (cf. Hazod, forthcoming b). Examples are to be found in the fields of 047 and 092, but see eg. also 136.

Additional information

s = single tomb
n = field with an unusually large number of tombs (more than 100)
plus = additional mounds in the nearer vicinity of the main field
? = identification unclear
v (2013) = site visited by the author in 2013 (= visit of a field already noticed by others or mentioned in previous documentations)
v (NT 2008) = site visited by the co-worker Ngodrop Tsering (NT) 2008
v (SK 2014) = site visited by the Shawo Khacham, Tibet University, Lhasa
v/s (2009) = site visited by the author in 2013; first information by satellite imagery
v/d (2008) = visit of a previously unknown or nowhere documented site during the fieldwork campaign of 2008
nv (sat) = site not visited by the author / project-team; information based on satellite imagery
nv (CRB) = site not visited by the author/ project team; identification based on information provided by the Xizang Wenwu Dituji (abbr. XWD) or the Cultural Relics Bureau (CRB) respectively
[21m] = the largest tomb of the respective field
01* = numbers marked with an asterisk refer to sites of particular significance – in terms of size of tomb, the numbers of mounds or other peculiarities of the field in question