Archeologists have confirmed a graveyard found eight years ago in northwest China's Gansu Province contains the first mausoleum of an ancestor of Emperor Qin Shi Huang, who united China for the first time over 2,000 years ago.
Archeologists believe Xiquanqiu in Lixian County was the birthplace of the forefathers of the Qin Dynasty (221-207 BC) and the cradle of Qin culture.
The conclusion was consistent with historical record: the founder of the Qin Dynasty originally lived in Xiquanqiu; he was given the title of "marquis" for his outstanding skill in breeding horses; he joined the Eastern Zhou Dynasty (770-221 BC) and later established the Qin Dynasty.
It is generally believed four grand mausoleums were built in the Qin Dynasty. By 1987 three had been identified. All are in northwest China's Shaanxi Province, but the whereabouts of the first has been an unsolved riddle for Chinese archeologists.
"The current excavation provides an answer to the riddle. It has proved that the powerful Qin Dynasty was developed from a horse-rearing ethnic group on China's western border. It gives a clue to studying the origins, growth and heyday of the Qin Dynasty," said Li Xueqin, director of the Institute of History under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).
Zhu Zhongxi, an official with the Gansu Provincial Museum, said,” The discovery filled a gap in China's research on cultural development in the early stages of the Qin Dynasty as well as the political, economic, military, cultural, metalwork and cemetery development in that period."
The graveyard, 250 meters long and 140 meters wide, houses more than 200 tombs with two large ones and a joint grave where an aristocratic husband and wife were buried together.
Archaeologists participating in the excavation claim to have ample evidence to support their judgment. They point first to the fact that the tombs at Dabaozi Mountain face east, in exactly the same way as the other three mausoleums found in Shaanxi.
Secondly, the size of the tomb, more than 100 meters each way, tallies with the characteristic grand scale of mausoleums in the Qin Dynasty.
Thirdly, the unique geographical feature, a mountain flanked by two rivers, at Dabaozi Mountain is in line with the general requirements for the location of a mausoleum in the Qin Dynasty.
Also, large amounts of bronze ware, which was popular in the Qin Dynasty, have been unearthed from the mausoleum. Some items are engraved with the words "cooking vessel of Marquis Qin" or "food vessel of Marquis Qin."
Moreover, Lixian County straddles both the Yangtze and Yellow River systems, a major area of human habitation in ancient China.
The survey has attracted over 30 well-known archaeologists from across China including Li Xueqin, who participated in the archeological project to establish whether Huangdi and Yandi, two legendary ancestors of the Chinese nation, really existed.
They believe the two major tombs at Dabaozi Mountain were built in the early stages of the Spring and Autumn Period (770-475 BC). However, they differ on the probable owners.
(Xinhua News Agency August 28, 2002)