|EMPEROR CH'IN...SHIH HUANG-TI
Founder of Imperial China
|For 2,000 years thieves and grave robbers have tried to break into the
tomb of Emperor Ch'in. So careful was he in sealing it with boulders,
earth, and slabs that no one has yet succeeded. Chinese authorities
are not going to enter it, with modern equipment, until they have
technological abilities to preserve dyes, clothing and other objects
which they anticipate discovering.
|We can see his armies for the battles of the other world because the
entrance was discovered by a local farmer digging a well in 1974.
However, further excavation will be delayed until better means are
available to preserve color and features of the terra cotta figures. All of
their wood weaponry has disintegrated.
Shortly after Ch'in died, the pit of the warriors was attacked and
burned by outraged farmers protesting his harsh government, ending
the dynasty. Once the timbers collapsed, the dirt ceiling fell into the
men and horses, shattering and burying them all for 2,000 years. No
one was interested in looting them since the site had already been
torched. Over the millenia, as the earth changed even local people
forgot where the entrance was located.
|This is the tomb of Shi Huan-Ti, left; the wall recently constructed to protect access to the tomb is right.
|To go to the beginning of China, no matter how one wants to quibble about it,
one has to go to the Emperor Ch'in, Shih huang-ti, who reigned 225-210 BC. He
took power the old fashioned way, by making war and killing his rivals. He
governed the tried and true way, taking lands away from powerful nobles. He
funded government the only way, collecting taxes directly from the people.
A Legalist, Shih huang-ti imposed a “law and order” society that brought the
bureaucracy and the people to heel, centralizing power as the Romans were to
do later, by building radiating roads to all parts of his kingdom and by sending his
government “agents” out early and often to inspect the state of the provinces.
While he disdained merchants, he nonetheless created a common set of weights
and measurements, and a single currency. To help protect his city from the
barbarians of Manchuria, he began building a defense wall which later dynasties
turned into a 4,000 mile Wonder of the World.
Ch’in reigned for only 15 years, but while bringing law, order, wealth and
protection to his country, he was, all the while, preparing for the death that he
hoped would never come. He imported by imperial order an army of men to
work on his underground tomb and city where he believed that he would rule
after death. A few miles from the center of his capital, X’ian, the Underground
Capital became the focus of his preparations for the afterlife.
It is said that 500,000 workmen dug the pits for years, filling them with full sized
terra cotta models of his army, his horses, and weaponry, along with stores,
concubines, officials and all of the precious things that an emperor might need
when living among the heavens. Yet, of death he was mightily afraid, and spent
much of his life sampling concoctions that might prolong life “forever”. Many of
them contained mercury and likely led to his last breath in 210 B.C.