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The Mausoleum of Qin Shi Huangdi | by Fraggle Rockstar
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The Mausoleum of Qin Shi Huangdi



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Qin Shi Huang was buried in his mausoleum, with the famous Terracotta Army, near modern day Xi'an (Shaanxi province).


For 2000 years, a secret army of clay soldiers protected the hidden tomb of China's first emperor, Qin Shi Huang. Until 1974 none knew of its existence; now Chinese archaeologists are gradually unfolding the mystery.



The site measures some three miles across and took 700,000 conscripts to construct it. Many wonders of the tomb were described by a Chinese historian, Sima Qian, writing less than a century after the emperor's death. He wrote of rare jewels, a map of the heavens with stars represented by pearls, and, on the floor of the tomb, a panorama map of China with the rivers and seas represented by flowing mercury. The mound itself was said to have been coated with molten copper to protect it, with crossbows lined up to shoot anyone who tried to break in.


Sima Qian never mentioned, however, the terracotta army - which was discovered by a team of well diggers. It is the detail of the terracotta armies that makes it so valuable. The soldiers were created with a series of mix-and-match clay molds and then further individualized by the artists' hand.


All the standing warriors were attached to clay plinths that rested on the tiled floor, which still resembles a modern pavement. Chinese archaeologists have been meticulous and patient in their work. The main tomb (located at 34°22′52.75″N, 109°15′13.06″E) containing the emperor has yet to be opened and there is still hope that it remains intact.


A magnetic scan of the site has revealed that a large number of coins are lying in the unopened tomb, occasioning speculation that the royal treasury was interred with the emperor. Scans of the earth atop the tomb have revealed unusually high concentrations of mercury in the shape of China's waters, adding further to the credibility of Sima Qian's description.

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Taken on October 29, 2007