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Uncover the Mystery of the Terracotta Army            

 

The Terracotta Army exhibition made 2008 the British Museum's most successful year ever, and made the British Museum the United Kingdom's top cultural attraction between 2007-2008. It was reported that the initial batch of pre-bookable tickets to the Terracotta Army exhibition sold out so fast that the museum extended the exhibition until midnight on Thursdays to Sundays. According to The Times, many people had to be turned away from the exhibition, despite viewings until midnight. During the day of events to mark the Chinese New Year, the crush was so intense that the gates to the museum had to be shut. The Terracotta Army has been described as the only other set of historic artifacts (along with the remnants of ruins of the RMS Titanic) which can draw a crowd simply on the back of the name alone.

 

The Terracotta Army

The Terracotta Army dating from 210 BC was discovered in the spring of 1974 in the eastern suburbs of Xi'an, Shaanxi Province by a local farmer named Yang who was drilling a water well 1.5 miles east of Mount Li.  For centuries, there were reports of pieces of terracotta figures and fragments of the Qin necropolis — roofing tiles, bricks, and chunks of masonry — having been occasionally dug up in the area. were discovered in 1974 by some local farmers near Xi'an, Shaanxi province, China near the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor.

The figures include warriors, chariots, horses, officials, acrobats, strongmen, and musicians. Qin Shi Huang was 13 when construction began. He specifically stated that no two soldiers were to be made alike.

The First Emperor

Qin Shi Huang (259 BC – 210 BC) is a pivotal figure in Chinese history. After unifying China, he and his chief advisor Li Si passed a series of major economic and political reforms. He undertook gigantic projects, including the first version of the Great Wall of China, the now famous city-sized mausoleum guarded by a life-sized Terracotta Army, and a massive national road system, all at the expense of numerous lives.  However, to ensure stability, Qin Shi Huang outlawed and burned many books.  Read more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qin_Shi_Huang

 


 Elixir of life

Later in his life, Qin Shi Huang feared death and desperately sought the fabled elixir of life, which would supposedly allow him to live forever. He was obsessed with acquiring immortality and fell prey to many who offered him supposed elixirs. He visited Zhifu Island three times in order to achieve immortality. In one case he sent Xu Fu, a Zhifu islander, with ships carrying hundreds of young men and women in search of the mystical Penglai mountain. They were sent to find Anqi Sheng, a 1,000-year-old magician whom Qin Shi Huang had supposedly met in his travels and who had invited him to seek him there. These people never returned, because they knew that if they returned without the promised elixir, they would surely be executed. Legends claim that they reached Japan and colonized it. It is also possible that the book burning, a purge on what could be seen as wasteful and useless literature, was, in part, an attempt to focus the minds of the Emperor's best scholars on the alchemical quest. Some of the executed scholars were those who had been unable to offer any evidence of their supernatural schemes. This may have been the ultimate means of testing their abilities: if any of them had magic powers, then they would surely come back to life when they were let out again.

The emperor died during one of his tours of Eastern China, on September 10, 210 BC (Julian Calendar) at the palace in Shaqiu prefecture (沙丘平台), about two months away by road from the capital Xianyang. Reportedly, he died of swallowing mercury (poison) pills, made by his court scientists and doctors, which contained too much mercury. Ironically, these pills were meant to make Qin Shi Huang immortal.

 

Mausoleum of the First emperor or one of the first projects the young king accomplished while he was alive was the construction of his own tomb. Sources suggested he ordered 720,000 non-paid laborers to build his tomb to specification. The main tomb (located at 34°22′52.75″N 109°15′13.06″E / 34.3813194°N 109.2536278°E / 34.3813194; 109.2536278) containing the emperor has yet to be opened and there is evidence suggesting that it remains intact.

Sima Qian's description of the tomb includes replicas of palaces and scenic towers, 'rare utensils and wonderful objects', 100 rivers made with mercury, representations of 'the heavenly bodies', and crossbows rigged to shoot anyone who tried to break in. Modern archaeologists have located the tomb, and have inserted probes deep into it. The probes revealed abnormally high quantities of mercury, some 100 times the naturally occurring rate, suggesting that some parts of the legend are credible. Secrets were maintained, as most of the workmen who built the tomb were killed. It was also said as a legend that the terracotta warriors were real soldiers, buried with Emperor Qin so that they could defend him from any dangers in the next life.