Archeologists have unraveled the mysterious plan of the Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum, the 2,200-year-old structure which is famous as the home of 7,000 terracotta horses and warriors.
Located in Xi'an in northwest China's Shaanxi Province, the Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum is the tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty (221BC-207BC) and also of China.
Covering 2.13 square kilometers, the four-layered mausoleum, like a well-structured city, includes an underground palace, which is the center of the mausoleum, an inner city, outer city and grounds.
"The revelation of the structure is the greatest achievement in the study of the Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum in the past 40 years," said Yuan Zhongyi, an expert on the mausoleum and honorary curator of the Museum of Qin Terracotta Horses and Warriors.
Since they began to explore the Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum 40 years ago, archeologists have discovered constructions over hundreds of square kilometers and more than 600 tombs of those buried alive with the emperor. However, the overall plan of the cemetery remained a mystery.
The cemetery, facing east, is a rectangle with falling 85 meters from the south to the north. The ramparts of the inner city and outer city are altogether 12 kilometers long, similar to that of Xi'an during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).
The underground palace, the central city, lies under the grave mound in the south of the inner city. It symbolizes Qin Shi Huang's real palace when he was alive, occupying two thirds of the southern part of the inner city.
The grave mound is the Qin Shi Huang Tomb tourists can see.
The inner city has the most buildings and buried relics such as the coffin chamber, flags and weapons for guards of honor and stores. Subordinate buildings and tombs for buried concubines of the monarch were also in the inner city.
In the area between the inner and outer cities, archeologists have found a chamber for stables, 31 chambers for birds and rare animals, 48 tombs for imperial concubines who were buried alive with the emperor and three sites of homes of officials in charge of gardens and temples.
Some secondary establishments such as a large pit for stone loricae and terracotta figures were also found in this zone.
Outside the outer city, along with the well-known terracotta horses and warriors, archeologists found 98 chambers for small stables and many tombs for those buried with Emperor Qin Shi Huang.
The gates of the inner and outer cities in both the west and the east were built in the form of courtyards. The city wall in the mausoleum has cloisters on both sides with turrets at the four corners.
Emperor Qin Shi Huang was the first in China to construct a mausoleum city and to build coffin chambers and subordinate palaces in the mausoleum. The first emperor also started the ritual of building chambers for those buried alive with the owner of the tomb on a large scale. Another unusual discovery is that the mausoleum does not have a tomb of the empress.
(Xinhua News Agency August 26, 2002)