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Mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shi Huang

Mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang is located in the eastern suburbs of Lintong County, 35 kilometers (22 miles) east of Xian. According to traditional Chinese geomancy, the site was chosen between the Li Mountain to the south and the Wei River to the north. It is the first and largest imperial mausoleurn with the most numerous sacrificial objects in China.

Qin Shi Huang and Construction of the Mausoleum

Qin Shi Huang (259 BC - 210 BC), the first emperor of China, ascended the throne at the age of 13. Qin Shi Huang's reign was marked with great advances in all sections of society.

he ordered the construction of a vast infrastructure of roads and canals and the connection of the various border walls of his kingdom into one Great Wall; he standardized the systems of writing, of weights and measures, and of currency in order to simply communication and record-keeping; and he abolished feudalism, forced the nobles to reside under his thumb in the capital city and divided the rest of China into 36 separately governed states. He also fostered religion, sacrificing to the gods in thanks for his military and diplomatic successes, announcing that he had finally united Chinal. However, Qin Shi Huangi was also a tyrannical despot and ruled with an iron hand for many years, handing down draconian laws, and levying large tax rates to oppress the commoners of ancient China and maintain and solidify his tenuous grasp on the monarchy.

Construction of the Qin Mausoleum began in 247 B. C. soon after Qin Shi Huang ascended to the throne and was still underway at his death 210 B. C. Qin Shi Huang ordered 720,000 conscript laborers to hurry up on building his royal tomb. Many laborers died of hardship during its construction, and all the workmen were entombed along with the emperor in order to keep their mouths shut. His son, the second Qin Emperor,saw to his entombment.

Construction of the tomb required a large quantity of stones. According to the historical documents, hundreds of thousands of criminals were forced to carry stones from the North Mountains. The stone processing site in Zhengjia Village shows that at least 750,000 square meters of stones were used to construct the Qin Mausoleum. Stones used for the mausoleum were carved with beautiful pattens and painted with moisture-proof red lacquer. Seams between the stones was filled with melted copper and tin. Crossbows were installed to kill any one attempting to rob the tomb.

Mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang

Mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang which covers 56.25 square km, was designed in accordance with the layout of the emperor's capital. The original high of the tomb is taller than today's. The Historian said the base of the tomb was 2087.65m in perimeter. Because of 2,200 years erosion by wind and rain, it is 1390m now.The Mausoleum is rectangular in shape and enclosed by two walls-the inner city wall and the outer city wall. The inner wall covers a area of 79sqm, and the outer wall 213 sqm.The walls no longer exist but the foundations halved remained. Both walls featured comer towers and broad gates on four sides, with the arrangement resembling a real city.

The underground palace of the mausoleum is the core of the whole buildings. Some survey indicates that the ceiling is studded with jewels depicting the sky, and mercury was pumped in mechanically to create images of flowing river. Trial digs have revealed high contents of mercury in the soil. Candles made from the fat of the walrus were said to bum for a very long time .This indicates that the interior of the mausoleum is grand and gorgeous palace and treasure house. It is said that the underground palace was brightly lit by whale oil lamps for eternity. The coffin of Emperor Qin Shihuang was cast in bronze. The palaces and other buildings within the walls of the mausoleum were destroyed. Only the huge pyramid of the mound survived the devastation, In 1987 the mausoleum was by UNESCO as a World Heritage site.

As a part of the mausoleum, the terracotta warriors have dazzled the world. But the materials unexcavated are also worth studying. Archaeologists working over several decades have discovered and excavated several dozen construction sites covering tens of thousands' of square meters, including the most important large tomb, gardens, temples and houses. The 50 meter long flagstone apron, 55cm square plinth stones, drainage ditch, finely crafted stone water drainage system and red interior walls show the architectural skill and magnificence of the construction itself.

Many other tombs, unrelated to the Qin Mausoleum, have been found, including ruins at the Five-Ranges Dam, the Zhengjia Village Stone Processing Site and the Fish-pond Site. Ministers, princesses and princes, the famous and the not so famous were inhumed there.The burial pits for horses, rare birds and pottery figures were ever regarded as the sacrificial objects to the Emperor. Hence the remains from these tombs and pits are beneficial for archaeologists to make further research.

Three Layers of City Walls to Protect Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum

After 40 years of hard work, the archaeologists of Shaanxi Province discovered the enigma of the city walls of Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum.

The whole Qin Shi Huang Cemetery was camouflaged by cities within a city and divided into three-part city walls-the outer city, the inner city and a small city within the inner city. Total length of the city walls was 12 kilometers, close to the length of Xian city walls built in Ming Dynasty. The whole city was 2.13 square kilometers. The outer city has 4 city gates, and the inner and small city altogether have 6 city gates. All in all, there were 10 city gates in the Qin Mausoleum city walls. Each city gate was about 70 meters long. The city walls were hard and colored patterns were found in the walls. It was also recorded that the height of the city walls was 10 meters. Within the small city, large number of graveyards, pits for buried bodies, and all kinds of architectural sites were scattered.

In a China mausoleum system, a long time ago, it was originally found out that Lang Fang and other annexes were built inside and outside the city walls. Moreover, the archaeologists have also found a group of San Chuque architectural sites, which was built between the inner and outer walls in eastern mausoleum. San Chuque was the highest symbol of architectural level a long time ago, and it was used by the emperor only.

It was said that each tile used by the annexes was engraved with some characters. Most of the contents of the characters were names of local authorities. Some were personal names. From the characters in the potteries, we can see that the local authorities who were responsible for providing tiles to the Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum were numerous and jumbled. The government offices of Qin central pottery making, basically offered the tiles used in building Lang Fang.

Experts say that the discovery of the city walls was another milestone in the archaeology of Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum. It is of great meaning and importance in studying the China emperor's mausoleum system.