First Emperor Qin’s Mausoleum – the Real Story
The elaborate burial site is located at the northern foot of the Lishan Mountains in the Shaanxi Province. The tomb, Qinshihuang Mausoleum was built for Emperor Qinshihuang, founder of the first unified empire in Chinese history. The large burial site contains life sized terracotta soldiers and horses, bronze chariots and weapons among other interesting artifacts. It is testament to the unprecedented political, military and economic power wielded by the Qin Dynasty and to the way it advanced the social, cultural and artistic aspects of the empire.
This now famous archaeological site, most well known for the thousands of terracotta soldiers standing guard over the First Unifier of China, has a much more interesting back story making it more than simply an impressive burial site for a very important emperor.
Documented by historian Sima Qian, the 38 year process seemed almost an exaggeration. Qian made outlandish claims, one such claim was that it took 700,000 workers to complete the project. When the 20 square-mile site was finally discovered in the 1974, the claims seemed vastly more reasonable. That is about 18, 421 workers a year over 38 years. This means multiple generations of craftsmen and other workers might have all lived their entire lives working on this monument. To this day, only a tenth of the site has been excavated.
Qian also tells us in his documentation that mercury was used to recreate the hundred rivers of China. When the site was excavated high levels or mercury were found in the soil above the site. But perhaps the most shocking claim Qian makes is that the craftsmen were walled up inside to protect the secret knowledge of the the burial site’s location.
These days the awe inspiring and somewhat gruesome site is a favored tourist attraction.