24 July 2024 The Future is the Product of the Past

A Treasure-Laden Burial Chamber Found Hidden Among Terracotta Army

Qin Shi Huang was the first emperor of China, and his tomb is renowned for being guarded by an army of 6,000 life-sized terracotta warriors.

Although Qin Shi Huang (259–210 BCE) accomplished much in this life, his ultimate goal was to defeat death. He constructed a massive underground city, complete with armor and weaponry, to protect himself from death. The army was composed of life-sized terracotta warriors, infantrymen, horses, chariots, and all the other equipment needed for combat.

Qin Shi Huang’s tomb is the world’s largest mausoleum, covering 22 square miles, and much of it has yet to be excavated due to concerns about damage from seismic activity, the elements, and looters. A 2010 excavation focused on the tomb’s foundations, uncovering a massive palace with 18 courtyard-style homes arranged around a central building. It is a quarter the size of Beijing’s Forbidden City and is regarded as its conceptual progenitor, though this one was designed for the emperor to live in after his death.

Now, a massive 16-tonne coffin hidden with treasures has been found inside a tomb that could belong to the son of China’s first emperor.

For nearly 2,000 years, the myth of Prince Gao – son to the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang – has been carried down the generations, carved into legend in the surviving epic saga of historian Sima Qian, himself writing around 85 BCE.

Image Credit : Netflix

According to Sima Qian (also known as the Shiji), after Qin Shi Huang’s death, his youngest son Hu Hai took the throne after killing all his competitors. Prince Gao told his brother that he regretted not voluntarily following his father into the afterlife, and asked that he be killed and buried in the great mausoleum. Hu Hai was glad to oblige.

Prince Gao’s tale might be wholly made up. Although the Shiji is a chronicle, it treats legend and tradition as fact, much like Livy’s Ab urbe condita. For instance, the mausoleum is said to have “100 rivers of mercury” flowing through it by the Shiji. Perhaps the 100 rivers story was exaggerated, but it was not entirely fabricated, as soil testing revealed mercury levels 100 times higher than usual.

The discovery of a 16-tonne coffin in a large burial chamber near the mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang and his terracotta warriors may now bring the myth to life.

The coffin was found to contain very rich funerary deposits, including weapons, armor, jade, a pair of gold and silver camels, a set of cooking utensils, and 6,000 bronze coins. With such a grand burial, the deceased must have been, even one of the sons of the Qin Emperor or a warrior of high rank.

In 2011 excavation also unearthed nine tombs. Their large coffins were left in place in keeping with the Chinese government’s hands-off policy as regards the mausoleum and its contents. Archaeologists returned this year to recover the coffin after it was threatened by heavy rain. It was excavated and removed for further study and examination of the contents in a controlled environment.

At the bottom of a tomb in central China, 16 meters deep and 109 meters long, a coffin sealed for millennia continues to puzzle archaeologists.

“Every time I go down I still feel amazed,’ said dig leader Jiang Wenxiao, as reported by The Times.

“After the first emperor died, his sons all came to a bad end, so I’m still more inclined to believe that this tomb belongs to a high-ranking nobleman or army chief,” Jiang Wenxiao, the excavation leader, said.

Wenxiao added: “The tomb was so precisely built. So deep, so large in scale. Most ancient tombs have been robbed so we didn’t have much hope for the coffin chamber. But it turned out it hadn’t been robbed. We were amazed.”

A British-Chinese co-production that was given unique access to the mausoleum site and the ongoing excavation was able to film the discovery. The Mysteries of the Terracotta Warriors, which premieres on Netflix on June 12th, will center around the discoveries.

Cover Photo: Terracotta warriors from the mausoleum of the first Qin emperor of China Qin Shi Huang, c. 221-206 B.C.E., Qin Dynasty, painted terracotta, Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum, Shaanxi, China. Photo: Will Clayton, CC BY 2.0

Related Articles

International Sand Sculpture Festival Opens with the Theme “The Lost City of Atlantis”

6 May 2021

6 May 2021

The 16th edition of the International Sand Sculpture Festival (SANDLAND) has begun in Turkey’s Mediterranean resort city of Antalya. Every...

Undeciphered Rongorongo Script from Easter Island may Predate European Colonization

12 February 2024

12 February 2024

From the depths of history, a wooden tablet bearing the mysterious “rongorongo” script has been unearthed from the small, remote...

Scientists find the oldest evidence of humans in Israel -a 1.5 million-year-old Human vertebra

3 February 2022

3 February 2022

An international group of Israeli and American researchers, an ancient human vertebra has been uncovered in Israel’s Jordan Valley that...

Stunning Roman-looking sandal found deep in the snow in the Norwegian mountains

16 April 2022

16 April 2022

Global warming is leading to the retreat of mountain glaciers. Incredibly well preserved and rare artifacts have emerged from melting...

A marble block depicting the mythological story of Actaeon, who was killed by his dogs, was found in the ancient city of Prusias ad Hypium

7 August 2022

7 August 2022

A marble block depicting the mythological story of Actaeon  (Akteon), who was killed by his dogs, was found during the...

Christians Supplied Medieval Pagans with Horses for Sacrifice for Funeral Rituals

20 May 2024

20 May 2024

In the late medieval period, pagans in the Baltic region of northern Europe imported horses from neighboring Christian nations for...

Columns in Lagina Hecate Sanctuary Rise Again

19 February 2021

19 February 2021

Lagina Hecate Sanctuary is located in Yatağan district of Muğla. It is an important sacred area belonging to the Carians...

Archaeologists discover Europe’s longest prehistoric mound in the Czechia

22 June 2024

22 June 2024

Czech archaeologists in the Hradec Králové area in East Bohemia have discovered what is probably the longest prehistoric mound in...

“Oracle Bone Inscriptions”, the world’s oldest writing system that has not disappeared in history

5 June 2023

5 June 2023

“Jiaguwen,” or the oracle bone inscriptions, are thought to be the earliest fully-developed characters as well as the source of...

A beautiful Medieval key discovered in Claverham village, UK

11 October 2023

11 October 2023

Earlier this year the Kemble fieldwork team from Cotswold Archaeology undertook a small excavation for Newland Homes on the edge...

Medieval subterranean corridors found by accident in northeast Iran

1 October 2022

1 October 2022

The workers working on a routine road construction project near Shahr-e Belqeys (City of Belqeys) in northeast Iran made an...

Interesting Social Dimensions of Rare Diseases Seen in the Bronze Age

10 March 2021

10 March 2021

When it comes to Rare Diseases, what almost all of us think of is that this disease has affected very...

Truncated conical tombs 3,000 years old found in the Chapultepec Forest

26 November 2023

26 November 2023 1

Archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) unearthed 10 truncated conical tombs, approximately 3,000 years old, at...

5500-year-old pentagon structure found in North China

13 November 2021

13 November 2021

Archaeologists discovered the remnants of a pentagonal structure going back 5,500 years in Taiyuan, Shanxi Province, north China. According to...

Egypt discovers five 4,000-year-old ancient tombs in Saqqara necropolis

19 March 2022

19 March 2022

The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities announced recently the discovery of five 4,000-year-old ancient tombs in the Saqqara archaeological...