Tomb of the First Emperor of China (World Heritage)
The huge tomb of the first emperor Qin Shi Huangdi (259-210 BC) is one of the most outstanding buildings in cultural history. Up to 700,000 workers worked on the facility, which began immediately after Qin Shi Huangdi’s accession to the throne. The rectangular, walled complex measures 2000 × 900 m. Inside the rectangle there is another wall with the central burial mound. There are numerous pits between the two walls in which, among other things, houses, horse stables and animal enclosures are located. Outside the enclosure there are further pits with accompanying graves. One contains the so-called terracotta army made up of around 6000 clay soldiers, horses and chariots. All clay figures were designed individually. The tomb was only discovered in 1974. So far only a fraction has been excavated,
Tomb of the First Emperor of China: Facts
|Official title:||Tomb of the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang|
|Cultural monument:||Tomb of the “First Emperor of China” with an army of over 7000 people made of terracotta, which was found in three excavation sectors, an army consisting of chariots, armored and unarmored warriors; Clay figures can be classified into eight different ranks and functions – from general to kneeling archer; Grave monument as a cosmic world diagram, aligned according to traditional rules in north-south direction, in its center the pyramidal tumulus, symbol of the world mountain and the world axis around which everything revolves|
|Location:||near Lintong, northeast of Xi’an|
|Meaning:||an imperial burial place with extraordinary, monumental terracotta funerary art|
Tomb of the First Emperor of China: History
|259-210 BC Chr.||Prince Zheng of Qin, who later became Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi|
|246 BC Chr.||Accession of Prince Zheng of Qin to the throne|
|238 BC Chr.||After he came of age, Prince Zheng of Qin actually came to power|
|221 BC Chr.||After the conquest of neighboring principalities, the Prince of Qin ascended the throne as “First Emperor of China”|
|around 206 BC Chr.||after the fall of the Qin dynasty|
|145-86 BC Chr.||Historian Sima Qian and his report on the unbelievable burial equipment of the imperial tomb|
|1974-75||Discovery of the burial place with life-size clay figures and inspection digs|
|1976||Discovery of an area of around 6000 m² with a clay troop consisting of soldiers and a few chariots|
|1977||Investigations in excavation field no. 2 assume 562 foot soldiers, 116 war horses and cavalrymen as well as 261 warriors accompanying the chariots, in the same year excavations of 520 m² excavation sector no. 3 with 68 clay sculptures|
Clay army of the afterlife
According to softwareleverage, the First Chinese Emperor, Prince Zheng of Qin, who called himself the “First Exalted, Divine of Qin”, was a real man of action. He had a new capital built near present-day Xi’an, in which, as if in mockery, he had the palaces of his defeated opponents rebuilt. The existing defensive walls between the six principalities defeated by Zheng were razed and at the same time a new wall was built in the north to defend against the cavalry people living there. He ordered a strictly hierarchical administrative structure with 36 provinces headed by a civilian governor and a military mandarin. The provinces were subdivided into prefect-led districts, a state structure that, apart from the details and the geographical layout, is still valid today.
The comprehensive unification of the empire was an urgent endeavor of the “First Sublime”: Coins, weights and measures were to apply throughout the empire, as well as a common script, streets of equal widths for wagons were to be maintained, channels for irrigation of the fields and transport routes were to be built. A kind of industrialization with standardized bricks, beams and water pipes began in house construction.
Hundreds of thousands of serf laborers had to go to work at the request of the new ruler in order to contribute to the consolidation of the empire and the personal glory of the emperor with representative and functional buildings. This included a gigantic mausoleum, the construction of which began immediately after the accession of the “Divine” to the throne, which was nevertheless not completed when the emperor died and whose dimensions are unknown to this day. It was a coincidence when, centuries after the completion of the grave construction, farmers came across fragments of terracotta figures while drilling wells near the provincial capital of Xi’an. Since then, archaeologists have been busy excavating more than 7000 larger than life human and horse figures from unglazed clay and explaining their origins.
The first emperor’s armies of workers dug a five-meter-deep pit, pounded the ground and covered it with fired bricks. Then they put in partition walls made of rammed earth and sunk wooden support posts so that after the figures had been set up, the entire pit could be covered with tree trunks, sealed with a layer of mortar and provided with a layer of earth about three meters thick. Thousands of years ago, the »grave field« towered over the surrounding area before the terrain was gradually leveled.
The clay soldiers look very lifelike: friendly faces with mustaches and mostly long hair twisted into a knot look at the amazed visitors. Even if different types can be recognized, the figures do not appear individually designed, but rather – in the sense of the founder of the empire, for whom effectiveness and functionality were important – as a result of refined industrial goods. It is noteworthy that no figures are identical in posture, facial features or equipment details. The open question is whether actual soldiers from that time were reproduced or whether the creators freely designed the different figures. The figures stand on solid base plates, the feet and most of the lower leg are also made of solid clay. At knee height, a transversely inserted plate ensures which marks the bottom edge of the clothing for further stability. The body itself consists of plates and bulges; the arms were manufactured separately and later attached to the body, the heads were produced using the hollow molding technique and only given individual features in the final fine-tuning process. At the time of their creation, the figures were brightly painted and carried wooden weapons in their hands. But the colors have faded, the weapons rotten. It was only in mid-2004 that experts succeeded in developing a process to protect the paint coating. At the time of their creation, the figures were brightly painted and carried wooden weapons in their hands. But the colors have faded, the weapons rotten. It was only in mid-2004 that experts succeeded in developing a process to protect the paint coating. At the time of their creation, the figures were brightly painted and carried wooden weapons in their hands. But the colors have faded, the weapons rotten. It was only in mid-2004 that experts succeeded in developing a process to protect the paint coating.
To date, only about a quarter of the entire system has been completely exposed. Nobody knows how many terracotta figures are still resting in the earth in addition to the ones that have already been restored. Because the excavation fields examined so far are all located on only one side of the actual mausoleum, which rests under a high tumulus. And in it the whole empire of the “First Emperor” is supposed to be reproduced in miniature. But to this day no one has dared to open this last monument to a megalomaniac ruler.