1 History 2 Discovery of the Terracotta Warriors 3 Archaeological studies 4 Opinions on possible excavation 5 References 6 External links
History Work on the mausoleum began soon after Emperor Qin ascended the throne in 246 BC when he was still aged 13, although its full-scale construction only started after he had conquered the six other major states and unified China in 221 BC. The source of the account of the construction of the mausoleum and its description came from Sima Qian in chapter six of his Records of the Grand Historian, which contains the biography of Qin Shi Huang:
In the ninth month, the First Emperor was interred at Mount Li. When the First Emperor first came to the throne, the digging and preparation work began at Mount Li. Later, when he had unified his empire, 700,000 men were sent there from all over his empire. They dug through three layers of groundwater, and poured in bronze for the outer coffin. Palaces and scenic towers for a hundred officials were constructed, and the tomb was filled with rare artifacts and wonderful treasure. Craftsmen were ordered to make crossbows and arrows primed to shoot at anyone who enters the tomb. Mercury was used to simulate the hundred rivers, the Yangtze and Yellow River, and the great sea, and set to flow mechanically. Above were representation of the heavenly constellations, below, the features of the land. Candles were made from fat of "man-fish", which is calculated to burn and not extinguish for a long time. The Second Emperor said: "It would be inappropriate for the concubines of the late emperor who have no sons to be out free", ordered that they should accompany the dead, and a great many died. After the burial, it was suggested that it would be a serious breach if the craftsmen who constructed the mechanical devices and knew of its treasures were to divulge those secrets. Therefore after the funeral ceremonies had completed and the treasures hidden away, the inner passageway was blocked, and the outer gate lowered, immediately trapping all the workers and craftsmen inside. None could escape. Trees and vegetations were then planted on the tomb mound such that it resembles a hill. — Sima Qian, Shiji, Chapter 6.
Some scholars believe that the claim of having "dug through three
layers of groundwater" to be figurative. It is also uncertain what
the "man-fish" in the text refers to, interpretation of the term
varies from whale to walrus and other aquatic animals such as giant
General view of the pit n°1 in the museum of Xi'an
The first fragments of warriors and bronze arrowheads were discovered
by Yang Zhifa, his five brothers, and Wang Puzhi who were digging a
well in March 1974 in Xiyang, a village of the Lintong county. At
a depth of around two meters, they found hardened dirt, then red
earthenware, fragments of terracotta, bronze arrowheads and terracotta
Yang Zhifa threw the fragments of terracotta in the corner
of the field, and collected the arrowheads to sell them to a
commercial agency. Other villagers took terracotta bricks to make
pillows. A manager in charge of the hydraulic works, Fang Shumiao,
saw the objects found and suggested to the villagers that they sell
them to the cultural centre of the district.
Yang Zhifa received, for
two carts of fragments of what would turn out to be terracotta
warriors, the amount of 10 yuans. Zhao Kangmin, responsible for
the cultural centre, then came to the village and bought everything
that the villagers uncovered, as well as re-purchasing the arrowheads
sold to the commercial agency.
In May 1974, a team of archaeologists from
Chariot found outside of the tomb mound
The necropolis complex of
Qin Shi Huang
The Terracotta Warriors
The tomb mound itself at present remains largely unexcavated, but a
number of techniques were used to explore the site. The underground
palace has been located at the center of the mound. Archaeological
survey and magnetic anomaly studies indicate a 4-meter high perimeter
wall, measuring 460 meters north to south and 390 meters east to west,
which is made of bricks and serves as the wall of the underground
palace. On top is an enclosing wall made of rammed earth of 30–40
meters in height. There are sloping passageways leading to the four
walls. The west tomb passage is linked to a pit where the bronze
chariots and horses were found. The tomb chamber itself is 80 meters
long east to west, 50 meters north to south, and is about 15 meters
high. There are, however, disagreements among the academic
community about the depth at which the palace lies, estimates ranging
from 20 meters to 50 meters.
According to the scientific exploration and partial excavation, a
significant amount of metal is present in the underground palace which
has a very good drainage system. Sima Qian's text indicates that
during its construction the tomb may have reached groundwater, and the
water table is estimated to be at a depth of 30 meters. An underground
dam and drainage system was discovered in 2000 and the tomb appeared
not to have been flooded by the groundwater. Anomalously high
levels of mercury in the area of the tomb mound have been
detected, which gives credence to the Sima Qian's account that
mercury was used to simulate waterways and the seas in the Mausoleum
of the First Qin Emperor. However, some scholars believe that if the
underground palace is excavated, the mercury would quickly volatilize.
"A Preliminary Study of Mercury Buried in the
Comparison of approximate profiles of the
Beginning in 1976, various scholars proposed to explore the underground palace, citing the following main reasons:
However, opponents of such excavations hold that China's current technology is not able to deal with the large scale of the underground palace yet. For example, in the case of the Terracotta Army, the archaeologists were initially unable to preserve the coat of paint on the surface of terracotta figures, which resulted in the rapid shedding of their painted decoration when exposed to air. The State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH) indicated that research and evaluations should be conducted first so as to develop a protection plan for the underground palace, and rejected a proposal by archaeologists to excavate another tomb close by thought to belong to the Emperor's grandson over fears of possible damage to the main mausoleum itself. References
^ Portal, Jane. "The first emperor of China: new discoveries &
research: later this month the British Museum unveils an unprecedented
loan exhibition of the terracotta warriors and other discoveries made
at the 3rd-century BC tomb complex of Qin Shihuangdi, China's first
emperor. Jane Portal, the exhibition's curator, explains the
importance of the new finds." Apollo Sept. 2007: 54+. Academic
OneFile. Web. 11 July 2016
^ Liu Yuhan (30 April 2012). "New York City welcomes the Terracotta
Warriors". China Daily. Retrieved 13 July 2012.
^ "Terra Cotta Warriors: Guardians of China's First Emperor".
^ Li Xianzhi (13 October 2009). ""Teenage warriors" discovered in
China's terracotta army". Xinhua News Agency. Retrieved 13 July
^ 司马迁 (1982). 史记. 卷六.秦始皇本纪: 中华书局.
^ Chinese Text Project Shiji, original text:
^ Portal, Jane (2007). The First Emperor: China's Terracotta Army.
Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0714124476.
^ "史记·卷六 十二本纪 秦始皇本纪第六".
^ Charles Higham (2004). Encyclopedia of Ancient Asian Civilizations.
Facts on File. p. 274. ISBN 978-0816046409.
^ Tanner, Harold M. (2010). China : a history. Indianapolis:
Hackett Pub. Co. p. 424. ISBN 9781603842051.
^ Zhewen, Luo (1993). China's imperial tombs and mausoleums (1 ed.).
Beijing: Foreign Languages Press. ISBN 7119016199.
^ Han Shu《汉书·楚元王传》：Original text:
Translation: Xiang burned the palaces and buildings. Later observers
witnessed the excavated site. Afterward a shepherd lost his sheep
which went into the dug tunnel; the shepherd held a torch to look for
his sheep, and accidentally set fire to the place and burned the
^ "China unearths 114 new Terracotta Warriors". BBC News. 2010-05-12.
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