Archaeologists Have Discovered Eerily Preserved Corpses From "China's Pompeii"

In 2000, archaeologists discovered what is known as China's Pompeii. The Lajia, China, archeological site is located in the Qinghai province in the northwest region of the country. Also referred to as the Pompeii of the East, the discovery made headlines in 2,000 when scientists unearthed skeletons at the site reminiscent of the remains of those killed in the Roman city following the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE.

Scientists believe the village was destroyed by a natural disaster. Over a dozen people sought shelter in a Bronze Age building during a mudslide. While they didn't survive, their remains were preserved in situ, or in the exact spot where they died. In addition to the skeletons, archaeologists uncovered various artifacts, including 4,000-year-old preserved noodles at Lajia.


  • The Event Started With A Catastrophic Earthquake And Mudslide

    The Event Started With A Catastrophic Earthquake And Mudslide
    Photo: Real Thing TV / YouTube

    In approximately 1900 BCE, an earthquake rocked the Lajia village of the upper Yellow River in the Qinghai province of China. This natural disaster caused huge mudslides, which entombed the villagers and buried their homes. The Laija site includes the contents of one building featuring two homes. The skeletons inside are very striking; they show the villagers at their most vulnerable – protecting each other and fighting for their lives.

  • The Yellow River Flood That Was Created By The Earthquake And Mudslide Was The Biggest In 10,000 Years

    The Yellow River Flood That Was Created By The Earthquake And Mudslide Was The Biggest In 10,000 Years
    Photo: Shannon1 / Wikimedia Commons / GFDL

    In 2016, scientists uncovered evidence indicating that the earthquake was responsible for a landslide that caused the Yellow River to flood. The enormous flood occurred around 1920 BCE and is believed to have been one of the biggest to occur in 10,000 years. Scientists were able to pinpoint the year of the flood by using radiocarbon dating extracted from skeletons at the Lajia site.

  • The Bodies At Lajia Show People Preparing For Their Deaths – Forever Frozen In Time

    The Bodies At Lajia Show People Preparing For Their Deaths – Forever Frozen In Time
    Photo: Real Thing TV / YouTube

    The Bronze Age homes were demolished by the earthquake and subsequent mudslide. Inside two homes are the remains of what appears to be a family, several of whom were captured clutching onto one another in their final moments. They are scattered around the settlement in various poses. On one wall, for example, two children are holding onto an adult, seemingly bracing themselves for the coming disaster.

  • 16 Total Bodies Were Preserved In A Variety Of Positions

    16 Total Bodies Were Preserved In A Variety Of Positions
    Video: YouTube

    Archaeologists unearthed a total of 16 human skeletons inside the two homes (14 from one home and two from another) at Lajia. The bodies were positioned in various ways. Experts found some of the skeletons in squatting positions with their gazes directed upwards. Other skeletons appeared to be crawling. A few hugged each other. Still more looked to be trapped in the mud.

  • The Skeletons Are 4,000 Years Old – More Than Twice The Age Of The Victims Of Pompeii

    The Skeletons Are 4,000 Years Old – More Than Twice The Age Of The Victims Of Pompeii
    Photo: Real Thing TV / YouTube

    The Lajia site is China's biggest disaster-related excavation site and encompasses 40,000 square feet. It's believed that everyone in Lajia was killed when the earthquake occured and the subsequent mudslide buried their village. The area has been dubbed China's "Pompeii," but the skeletons are 4,000 years old – more than twice the age of the victims killed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE.

  • This Pair Was Originally Believed To Be Mother And Child

    This Pair Was Originally Believed To Be Mother And Child
    Photo: Real Thing TV / YouTube

    When these two skeletons were unearthed, the media widely reported that they represented a woman in her 30s holding her child, who was about three or four years old. The child's arms are hugging the woman as she holds on to him (or her) in return. The woman's face is directed upwards, and the pair is entombed in red clay.

    DNA tests performed on the skeletons to corroborate the assertion that they were mother and child proved otherwise. Shi-Zhu Gao and his colleagues at Jilin University in China determined that while the pair were possibly related, they were not mother and child. The female may have been an aunt or someone else who was deeply connected to the child.