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Mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang

Human remains found in Mausoleum of First Emperor of China

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Archaeologists have said that a five-year excavation of small burial pits inside the Mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang, China’s First Emperor (259-210 BC), have proven historical records that say imperial concubines were immolated and buried in sacrificial burial pits.

The latest digging season in a five-year project has just concluded and archaeologists announced that a number of burial pits inside the imperial mausoleum contained the remains of young females, which are presumed to be the Emperor’s concubines.  So far, only 10 of the 99 small burial pits have been excavated and it is expected the other pits will produce similar results.

According to Zhang Weixing, deputy director of the archaeology department of the Emperor Qin Shi Huang's Mausoleum Site Museum, the fact that some of the skeletons were incomplete suggests that the young women were killed elsewhere and then buried in the pits rather than in formal coffin chambers.

The First Emperor of China is famous for the army of terracotta warriors that stand guarding his tomb, ready to protect him in the afterlife. His Mausoleum is said to be a copy of his kingdom —which according to the records took 37 years and more than 720,000 people to construct—so that he could maintain his empire after death. 

According to historical records, the mausoleum was a notorious crime scene. Many labourers died of hardship during its construction, and all the workmen were entombed along with the emperor in order to silence them. But it wasn’t only the workmen who were killed – ancient texts suggest that all the barren roynnnnal concubines accompanied Emperor Qin Shi Huang on his last journey.  The Second Emperor said: "It would be inappropriate for the concubines of the late emperor who have no sons to be out free".  Presumably he believed they would service him in death as they had serviced him in life

Featured Image: The imagined picture of the tomb of Chinese emperor Qinshihuang

By April Holloway



Tsurugi's picture

I helped my dad build a house for my mother. Can confirm this; we too were at times unsure the project would be completed before our deaths.

Wodun.....I'm female and a wife, but I even have to admit your joke was pretty funny! I can just imagine the emperor and his workers standing there looking at this regally attired female as she shakes her head back and forth and tells the emperor to go a little more to the left with 8000 (2000 unearthed & 6000 still buried) terracotta soldiers. I can see the emperor sigh and ring his hands in frustration, but then relent and tell his 700,000 workers to just move them to the left to make her happy. The workers want to protest, but know better because it would mean instant death. Instead most just roll their eyes and grumble to themselves. Satisfied that she got her way, the empress starts to leave, but turns back around and tells the emperor she will return shortly and not to do anything except move the 8000 soldiers a little to the left without her. The emperor sighs heavily and thinks to himself that he is never going to get his tomb finished before he dies at this pace and he was right because it is known that it wasn't completed until after his death. I believe it is said that it took over 37 years for the tomb to be completed and maybe Wodun has figured out the mystery of why it took so long for the tomb to be completed!

His wife probably made him make it and it took so many people because they had to move the terra cotta soldiers a million times.

Just joking ;-)

Don't be so sexist. Read the article for it's historical interest rather than blabbering on about "evil men". History is full of evil people, men and women, who committed atrocities. It isn't a "male megalomania", it is just social consequence and conditioning.

Disgusting, Males are so stuck to the concrete. Male megalomania can reach infinite heights.

aprilholloway's picture


April Holloway is a Co-Owner, Editor and Writer of Ancient Origins. For privacy reasons, she has previously written on Ancient Origins under the pen name April Holloway, but is now choosing to use her real name, Joanna Gillan.

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