Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor and the Terracotta Army
Since the accidental discovery of the Terracotta Army in the 1970s, the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor and the Terracotta Army have been one of the biggest topics in the areas of Chinese archaeology and history.
According to The Records of the Grand Historian: Annals of Qin Shi Huang, Qin Shi Huang instructed, right after he ascended the throne, the construction of his mausoleum. The construction process lasted for 39 years. The layout of the mausoleum was modelled on Xianyang, the capital city. The perimeter of the inner city is 2.5km and that of the outer city is 6.3km. The tomb, located in the southwest of the inner city, has not yet been excavated.
According to current research, the mound of the Terracotta Army is 1km away from the east of the mausoleum. It is believed to have the purpose of protecting the emperor in his afterlife. The Terracotta Army today is in earth tone. Yet, when local villagers first found these earthen figures 2,000 years after their creation, the army’s clothes and weapons were still colourful. Due to oxidation, the colours faded out unfortunately within several minutes after excavation.
For decades, Chinese archaeologists have been arguing over whether to excavate the tomb of the First Qin Emperor. Some scholars believe that it should be excavated as soon as possible because the region is in the seismic zone; some dissidents argue that, however, the layout of the underground palace is not fully known, and archaeologists cannot handle a large-scale site with the existing techniques. Those who oppose the excavation further comment that it can result in a huge loss if the palace is excavated without a second thought, with the previous lesson of not being able to preserve the coloured lacquer finish of the Terracotta Army in early years.