The builders were carrying out excavation works when they came across the man’s body, dressed in fine fabrics and laid to rest with his favourite fan.
The man, who was believed to be an ancestor of the Wang family, is estimated to have died some time during the Ming (1368 to 1644 AD) or Qing (1644 to 1912) dynasties.
Judging by the corpse’s attire, as well as the limestone and fine wood used to build his coffin, it’s believed he was a noble or at least came from a rich background, officials from China’s State Administration of Cultural Heritage said.
Despite spending what could have been hundreds of years in the ground, the body was surprisingly well-preserved, they added.
The corpse has since been carried out of the site and will be studied before it further decays out in the open.
The body was discovered during excavation works in Zhizhu Village, which is in Jiangnan Township in Anhua County in China’s central Hunan Province.
Construction at the work site has since been halted and the cultural heritage administration may even ask the firm to suspend works indefinitely.
If that happens they would receive heft compensation by the government.
So far officials have not revealed whether they have discovered any of the man’s living descendants, despite being able to identity his family name as well as the precise location he was buried.