Terracotta Accessory Pits

Site of Pottery Kiln in Xihuang Village
Site of Pottery Kiln in Xihuang Village
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Besides the three pits of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses, experts have also discovered other pits, known as accessory pits, near the three main pits. These include the builder's graveyards, the slaughter pits, the rare birds and animals pits and the stable pits.

 Builder's graveyards
Located about a mile southwest of the Mausoleum of the Emperor Qin Shi Huang, there are three builder's graveyards. The first one is located to the southwest of Zhaobeihu Village; the second one lies to the east of Wusha Factory east of Lintong; and the third one is found north of Yaochitou Village. The third one was destroyed when the land was leveled, with only piles of scattered bones left behind. The graveyard near the Zhaobeihu Village is larger. Covering an area of 9,688 square yards, the graveyard contains 114 graves including 106 Qin graves and 11 Han and Tang graves. The graves are quite crowded together, with some arranged at intervals as small as 0.2 yards. In 1980, 32 Qin graves were excavated. They were all rectangular in shape. The smallest one measured 0.9 yards long and 0.7 yards wide. Such a narrow pit is rare to see in Qin tombs. Moreover, it is astonishing that over 100 skeletons were squeezed into these 32 graves. Examination proved that most of the dead were young males. A man, a woman and a child, possibly a family forced to labor for the Qin government, were found buried together in one grave. The heads of all the skeletons were facing different directions, indicating a hasty burial at that time. Some heads had clear stab wounds, which showed that their owners were barbarously killed after they built the Qin Mausoleum.
Builders'''' Graveyard
Builders' Graveyard, Mausoleum of 
Emperor Qin Shi Huang
Terracotta Figure with stretching arm in sitting position
Terracotta Figure with stretching arm
in sitting position

Slaughter pits
Acrobatic Figure
Acrobatic Figure

There are 17 slaughter pits located about 5.5 to 11 yards west of the stable pits. Eight of them have been excavated so far. One pit didn't have any human bones but contained only a bronze sword. In the other pits, six skeletons were found with the heads separated from the bodies. On the only complete skeletons the upper and lower jaws were not in alignment with each other, which means that they met with violent deaths. The skeletons belonged to five men and two women aged 20 to 30. There were about 200 burial objects such as animal bones, decorations made from gold, silver, copper and jade, lacquer works and the vestiges of silk. Judging from these luxury funerary items and referring to historical records, it is confirmed that the owners of these slaughter pits were probably princes, princesses and other ministers killed by the second Qin emperor after he ascended to the throne.

Since October 10, 2009, 116 pieces of exhibits discovered in Emperor Qin Shi Huang's Mausoleum Site are now available to view by the public. Among them, a skull with a bronze arrowhead on attracts most people's attention. They wonder whom the skull belonged to and what a miserable story it was. It is learned that the skull was unearthed in Shangjiao Village in the outer city of the Emperor Qin Shi Huang's Mausoleum. Its master was one of the sons of Emperor Qin Shi Huang. He was shot dead at an early age by Hu Hai, the second emperor of Qin Dynasty. The experts guess that this Prince was murdered when he was at play, judging by his protruding lower jaw which revealed a look of panic and pain. According to modern technology, it is easy to model the Prince's feature by his skull, and from which the look of the Emperor Qin Shi Huang can be simulated, for they were father and son.
 Rare birds and animals pit
It is the largest of all the accessory pits of the Emperor Qin Shi Huang. By imitating the appearance of the imperial garden while the emperor was alive, the rare birds and animals pit was a place for the Emperor's spirit to hunt in the afterworld. Located in the southern zone between the inner and outer city walls to the west of the burial mounds, there are 31 pits of this kind arranged in three lines from north to south. Archaeologists dug out two pits and discovered a coffin buried in each of them. In each coffin are an animal skeleton and a pottery basin. The animal skeletons were believed to belong to herbivores such as deer. A bronze ring in the neck of the animal indicates that it was tied when alive. Moreover, further excavation found statues of kneeling warriors. They represent the feeders of the rare birds and animals in the royal court.
Bronze Duck
Bronze Duck
Iron Pliers
Iron Pliers (Instrument of Torture)
Stable pits
Discovered in 1976, there are two sites containing stable pits. One is in Shangjiao Village to the east of the Mausoleum of the Emperor Qin Shi Huang, and the other site lies between the inner and outer walls of the mausoleum. Archaeologists have discovered 98 stable pits in Shangjiao Village. They are distributed neatly in three lines from north to south. Some burial pits contained a single horse, while in others only a statue of a kneeling terracotta warrior was found. Others have both. The horses are believed to have been buried alive because the four limbs appear to be struggling and traces of restraining straps can be seen. Pottery and basins to feed the horses had been put in front of the horse heads.

All of these accessory pits reflect the Emperor Qin Shi Huang's idea of treating death as life. The great emperor wanted to bring anything he had when alive to the afterworld so he could continue his luxurious life, and this idea was gradually adopted by emperors in later dynasties.

More Accessory Pits:
 Pit K0006 - Civil Official Figures
 Pit K0007 - Bronze Aquatic Birds
 Pit K9901 - Acrobatics Figures

 Recommended Tour Itinerary:
Terracotta Warriors Tour: One-day to visit Terracotta Warriors and Horses and more
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