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Emperor Qinshihuang's Mausoleum and Tombs

Emperor QinShihuang's mausoleum looks huge and magnificent and can be seen from afar. The construction of the emperor's tomb is recorded in the ShiJi (Records of the historian) as follows: they dug through three subterranean streams and poured molten copper for modals of palaces, pavilions and officials, as well as fine vessels, precious stones and rarities. Artisans were ordered to fix up crossbows so that any thief breaking in world be shot. All the country's streams, the Yellow River and Yangtze were reproduced in quicksilver and by some mechanical means made to flow. The heavenly constellations were shown above and the regions of the earth below. The candles were made of whale oil to ensure their burning for eternity." The description can provide us that Emperor QinShihuang's tomb was actually an underground treasure-house. The tomb was a subterranean palace with a protective outer wall 6,210 meters in perimeter on the ground level. Within this area was an inner wall that surrounded the burial mound, located in the southern half of overall compound. Both of the walls had gates leading out in all four directions and watch towers. The burial mound was 115 meters high 2,200 years ago, its reduced to a height of 76 meters today due to the passage of time. With the emperor's tomb as the center, some 600 satellite pits and tombs have been found around within the area of 56.25 square kilometers. Since the discovery of the pits of the Terra-cotta Warriors and Horse in 1974, more and more satellite pits and tombs began to be known and unearthed.

The resting hall of the emperor is situated 5 meters north of the burial mound. It was once a large building above the ground covering an area of 3,575 square meters, where there were all the necessities for daily life, as if the emperor were still alive. The side hall, a subsidiary building of the resting hall, is located north of the resting hall, in which the tomb owner could rest and relax.

Three sets of ruins, probably small palaces of some sort have been discovered in the northwest corner between the inner wall and the outer wall. They were most likely ritual sits and living quarters for relics unearthed from here such as a bronze music bell with gold-silver-inlaid inscription, a bronze Quan, the standard weighing apparatus, fragments of a bronze lamp with goose-shaped leg, some broken pieces of  a porcelain bottle and tiles etc. can reveal.

1. Pits of Rare Birds and Animals:

Thirty-one pits of rare animals and birds with a few attendants to the west of the mausoleum have been unearthed within the confines of the wall. These finds indicated Emperor love for hunting, everything known to him was buried with him after his death.

2. Stable pits

Ninety-eight sets of the stable pits at ShangJiaoCun, a village 350 meters east of the mausoleum, were found. In front of the horses were placed some pottery jars, basins and lamps in these pits. The remains of mallets and hay were still left in the basins. These pits were modeled after Qin imperial stable system and of certain significance in the history of the horse-raising method.

3. Tombs of Emperor Qin's Children

Archaeologists have found seventeen Qin tombs for Emperor QinShihuang princes and princesses killed by the Second Emperor. They were placed eight meters on both sides of the stable pits. While eight of these tombs have been unearthed, they are in shape with sloping roadways leading to the tombs. Approximately two hundred historical relics made of different materials, such as gold, silver, bronze, iron, pottery, jade, shellfish, etc. Have been discovered, and lacquer wares, fragmented silk fabrics, too.

4. Mass Graves:

In present day ZhaoBeiHuCun, a village to the southwest of the mausoleum, these have been discovered "mass graves", covering an area of 8,100 square meters. 42 of them have been unearthed already and over a hundred human skeletons were found. The excavations show that the skeletons were roughly put together in the simple graves, and one such grave with the skeletons overlapped, some of them are in struggling position, it means that they were buried alive. On the evidence of inscription with the names and birth places of the death on tile fragments, the earliest epitaphs which have been unearthed so far, it is presumably that these were the laborers who died during the construction work.

5. Pits of Two Sets of Bronze Chariots and Horses:

In December 1980, archaeologists discovered a large pit holding two sets of painted bronze chariots and horses, 20 meters with the Emperor Qin's tomb mound. The pit is about 7.8 meters beneath the present ground level with the bronze chariots and horses placed in a big wood coffin originally. Due to the passage of time, wood had rotted and the covering earthen layers had collapsed. When excavated, the chariots and horses were damaged into thousands of pieces. Fortunately, the pit had not been stolen; all the broken pieces were overlapped in disorder on the ground. Through eight years?painstaking restoration by the archaeologists, the complete two sets of bronze chariots and horses are now on display in the museum.

Investigation reveals that the chariots were the deluxe sedans used by the emperor when he went on inspection tours in his after life, They were exactly modeled after the real chariots, horse and driver, but made in half size. Bronze was used for making chariots, horses and charioteers and large amount of gold and silver used as ornament. Both chariots and horses were cast in perfect proportion. The exquisite color paintings made the bronze chariots look more magnificent and noble. As a result of study and research, archaeologists named themm"high Chariots" and "Comfortable Chariots" respectively. Each chariot had a single shaft, two wheels and was drawn by four horses. These are the biggest, most deluxe, structurally most realistic and best preserving bronze chariots and horses that have been unearthed so far.

High Chariots: The chariot with the horses in the front is totally 2.57 meters long and weighs about 1,061 kilos. It is regarded as "Battle Carriage" or "Inspection Carriage", too. On the outer side of the left protecting board there is an arrow quiver in which 12 bronze arrows are laid. While on the inner right side of the protective board there is a bronze shield inserted in a set of silver shield-holder. Both sides of the shield are colorfully painted by cloud-like patterns. This shield is the most intact and complete one ever discovered from the Qin Dynasty.

The charioteer stands on the chariot is looking ahead with prudent and humble facial expression. He is wearing the headgear and his square-toed shoes curve slightly towards the ankles. He is armed with a long sword and decorated with a jade ring at the waist. Both of his hands are extending forward. The thumb is apart from the forefinger, while the other three fingers are together holding bridle reins. The fingers are thin and long, the fingernails are round and full. The vivid imitation made two hands look like real ones.

Comfortable Chariots: It is about 3.17 meters together with the horses and weighs about 1,241 kilos. The carriage is longer and divided into a front chamber and a back chamber. The front chamber is for a sitting charioteer riding the carriage. The costumes of the High Chariot's driver and Comfortable Chariot driver are the same, but the sitting driver looks more humble. The back chamber is quite spacious, 0.78 meters wide and 0.88 meters long. The window panels of the back chamber are cast into shallow diamond-flower holes, which are neatly aligned into rhombic patterns. The holes are used for ventilation. So the Comfortable Chariots is also named "Air-conditioned Carriage" 2,200 years ago.

The roof of the carriage is a turtle hell canopy. The canopy is 1.78 meters long, 1.29 meters wide.

Workmanship: The thinness of bronze cast walls is one of the significant characteristics of the bronze chariots. The thickest position of the canopies of two chariots is 4mm, whereas the thinnest place only 2mm. The canopy of the Comfortable Chariot covers an area of 2.3 square meters. This is not an easy job to accomplish even today.

Driving and Harnessing Mechanism: Both High Chariot and Comfortable Chariot are of the single-shaft type. The driving process is "horses puling the yokes, yokes are lined with the balance block, balance block pulling the shaft, and the shaft pulling the carriage". Each chariot has four horses, two central-horse and two side horses. In order to keep the four horses pull steady and the chariots walk smoothly, there is each o bronze belly-drive suspended at the outer ribs of the two central-horses. On the end of belly-drive are cast with four sharp cones protruding toward the side horses. In case the side horse walks in, the four sharp cones would stab and pain it. If the side horse walks out, the rope round the side horse would be stretched tight.

From the teeth engraved in the mouths of the horses, it is evident that the eight horses to the chariots are all six years old, at the best age for draught. The coarse-fiber tassel on the head of each side horse is the symbol of the social position and authority.

Color-painting: Both chariots were originally painted with bright colors ranging from vermilion, pink, green, blue to white, but the basic color was white. Chinese ancestors believed "Ying-Yang" theory. According to this theory, the space and the earth were divided into five directions, Which were represented by five colors-red, black, yellow, blue and white, representing the south , the north, the center, the east and the west respectively. So this set of bronze chariots and horses used basic white color to indicate the west direction. It can also foretell that the other four-colored bronze chariots and horses probably will be discovered in future around the emperor tomb. This is the most important and most outstanding characteristic of the bronze chariots and horses.

More than ten kinds of color pattern depicted on the chariots, most of which were dragons, phoenixes, diamonds, clouds and geometric designs. The layer of color painting has protected the bronze, delayed the process of oxidation. This is what the Qin people could not realize at the time.

6.The newly Unearthed Pit-Stone Armor and Helmets:

In 1998, some 200 meters southeast away from the emperor tomb, archaeologists discovered a large burial pit containing stone armor and helmets. The pit is rectangular in shape, covering an area of 13,600 square meters. It is the largest burial pit that has been unearthed so far within the confines of the inner and outer walls. Recent excavations unearthed nearly 120 stone armor suits and 90 stone helmets and some other relics. These objects were scattered in disarray on the bottom of the pit when discovered. Inside the pit, several pillars supported a wooden ceiling, which were coated by layers of straw. Different sections of the pit were separated by rammed earth.

The armor and helmet were made from numerous stone flakes. The stone material was fine-grained limestone in a dark gray color. The stone they made from is easy to break, with poor toughness and heavy weight. The main flakes are rectangular, square, trapezoid and round in shape, some are in special shape. There are some round and square tiny holes on the stone flakes for stringing with flat copper wires. The edge of non-overlapped flakes is artistically decorated by a groove. The overlapped corners are made round with the aim of linking, expanding and contracting flakes. Judging from the features, archaeologists divide the armor suits into three categories:

Small stone flakes: Two pieces of this kind armor have been unearthed. The stone pieces are small and thin but exquisitely made, just like fish scales. Both armor suits are composed of over 800 stone flakes.

Medium stone flakes: Only one piece of this kind has been unearthed, it believed to be used for the battle steed. Historical book tells that the horse armor didn appear until the end of the Eastern Han Dynasty, but this armor pushed the origin of horse-armor-making at least 400 years earlier.

At the present time, only one set of stone armor and one stone helmet have been restored. The armor weighs about 18 kilograms and the helmet weighs about 3.1 kilograms with 74 flakes linked together.

The objects were made the same size as real as real armor coats and helmets. According to archaeologists, they were not for practical use like the iron or leather armor of that era. These might have been specially made as funeral objects for Emperor QinShihuang.

7. The newly unearthed pit-terra-cotta Acrobats and a Bronze Tripod:

In addition to the chamber of armor, archaeologists have found another pit 40 meters south of the stone armor and helmet pit. The trial excavation on an area of only 9 square meters of the pit in rectangular shape unearthed 12 pottery figures and "No. 1 Bronze Tripod" of the Qin Dynasty on the top layer of the same pit.

Similar to real people in size, the figures were only clothed in a short skirt in a shape similar to those of woman鈥檚 miniskirt today. Some appear tall and strong while some appear others short and slim. Exquisitely made, the figures vary in posture. One has his hand raised and another holds a piece of his skirt. Compared with the serious expressions on the Terra-cotta Warriors, these figures were more active and expressive.

According to an analysis of the restored figures, archaeologists said, different from the terra-cotta Warriors, these pottery figures might be the acrobats who served in the Emperor Qin imperial palace, portraying the splendid acrobatic art of the Qin Dynasty.

The bronze Tripod unearthed on the top of the 12 acrobats is the biggest and heaviest one which has been found so far from the emperor Qin's Mausoleum. It is 59.5 centimeters in length, 64 centimeters in diameter and 212 kilograms weigh.

The Tripod was originally a cooking utensil for boiling meat. With the consolidation of the system of hierarchical rites and music, Ding also became a symbol of stratum. This bronze tripod was delicately shaped with rich, fluid and beautiful patterns. Again, due to the lack of historical records, experts estimated that it might be a piece of sacrificial offering of that era.

8. The newly unearthed pit-Civil Officials:

In October 2,000, another new burial pit located southwest of the Emperor tomb mound was discovered. Only a few pottery figures unearthed from the pit have been restored and two of them are on display in the Museum temporarily. Both figures have colorful paint remained on the faces. Their facial expression is gentle and humble. They dress in similar costume as the pottery warriors in the burial army pits located 1.5 kilometers east away. The hands have no weapons, but cross at the waist and covered by long, loose sleeves. Each of them wears a knife and a knife-sharpener at the waist. The knife was used as the present eraser for peeling wrong notes inscribed on wood or bamboo, because paper had not been invented during the Qin period. The Unique knife and knife-sharpener are the first of their kind so far unearthed from the emperor Mausoleum.

It is estimated that these pottery figures might be the low ranking civil officials who served in the Central Government of Qin Empire.

The construction of QinShihuang Mausoleum required considerable resources and manpower at that time. In present day, continuous excavations are going on. Archaeologists are sure that more and more treasures will be brought to light in future.