Well this must have been awkward. A handful of illegal tomb-raiders have been caught by Inner Mongolian authorities after archeologists spotted them hand-digging a 10-meter (33-foot) tunnel near the entrance of an ancient tomb under excavation.
It is apparently quite common for raiders to hunt for open excavation sites and “act as parasites on official archaeological projects, digging the same site at night that the professionals are excavating during the day.” It’s a ballsy move especially considering, you know, you’re hand-digging a tunnel at night in a centuries-old building, probably not built to the finest standards, extremely close to groups of people who deeply care about the stuff.
The “target” of the thieves and archeologists alike was a Shang Dynasty (16th century BC) burial site of an aristocratic woman. The remains are, apparently, “in excellent condition,” and the woman was buried with a collection of goods that are either priceless (if you’re the archeological type) or worth a few thousand yuan (if you’re more of a grave-robber).
The looters in question did not meet the same fate as the Xi’an grave-robbers who suffocated after getting trapped in their target tomb, and the archeologists were able to save their prized remains. It’s kind of a win-win?