Being the first, largest and richest imperial mausoleum in Chinese history, the Mausoleum of the Emperor Qin Shi Huang
draws the most attention from all social circles. Should the Mausoleum of the Emperor Qin Shi Huang be excavated? This is a heated topic among archaeologists, historians and the public from home and abroad. Many people hold that the mausoleum should not be excavated, because the present technology yet cannot protect the cultural relics buried in the tomb. The others support the opening of the mausoleum due to the curiosity of what is inside and the profit the tomb will bring to the local area and people through the tourist industry. The two groups debate for a long period of time.
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|Archaeological Site of Pit 1 |
The attitude of the experts is clear, that is, the protection comes first. The problem of whether to open the tomb or not is to be put aside for 30 to 50 years, they suggest. The preservation techniques of culture relics cannot satisfy the requirement for protecting the underground treasures. The silk, fresco and paintings are the most difficult to be well preserved. For example, the lacquer coffin and colorful paintings on silk discovered in Mawangdui Han Tombs cannot remain as bright and complete as before when unearthed. When the mausoleum of the Emperor Shenzong in Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the delicate silk discovered in the tomb immediately deteriorated when came into contact with air. In a sense, the excavation is equivalent to damage.
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Terracotta Warriors and Horses
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on Bronze Chariot
But few can deny the interest of seeing what is really buried inside the mausoleum. The unveiling of the secrets inside is truly exciting and encouraging. Even the experts who refuse the excavation would like to see the interior to check their lifelong research to the mausoleum. In the book of the Historical Records written by Sima Qian, the underground palace of the mausoleum is described like this: it was dug through many levels of the underground water. The tomb chamber was full of rare treasure collected from all the country and the states once he conquered. The lakes, rivers and seas were made up of flowing mercury. The legendary luminous pearls decorated on the dome of the tomb were the symbolization of the sun, the moon and the stars. The candles lit by fish oil were ever burning, shining the tomb brightly as though it were in the daytime. In order to protect the tomb from being disturbed, the booby-trap arrows were installed to kill any daring intruder.
|Pieces of Terracotta Warriors |
What described in the Historical Records about the interior layout of the Mausoleum was finally proved to be true by a recent geological survey. The traces of the large amount of mercury were found, which in turn arouse many people's curiosity to have a look of the luxury inside the tomb. An economist put an article in his blog: "It is the time to open the Mausoleum of the Emperor Qin Shi Huang" where he pointed out the excavation would bring big economic benefit, which has gained support from many net friends. But, there are also numerous people strongly opposed him by saying that his opinion was totally from an economist's point of view, regardless the protection of the cultural relics.
Though the debate between the two sides goes on and on, the Chinese government is not ready to give the green light to open the tomb. The approval to excavate the tomb will not be given in the near future and probably not in the lifetime of today generation. The best protective measure is to leave it as it is. It is unwise to calculate on the cultural heritage left by the forefathers to promote the economy, nor blindly develop it and left nothing for the later generations to inherit. So, everyone who is interested in the Mausoleum of the Emperor Qin Shi Huang, please use your imagination to picture what is inside the tomb, and let the great emperor rest in peace! Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum (Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor)
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