Archaeologists excavating the tomb complex of China’s first emperor, famed for its ’terracotta army’, have discovered a gate to the imperial tomb’s outer city, proving historical accounts referring to four gates.
The People’s Daily Online says the north gate is huge, some 93 metres (about 280 feet) tall by seven (21 ft) metres and was built in the north facing wall of the tomb’s outer city, and is more than 400 metres (about 1,200 feet) from the east and west walls.
A platform made of rammed earth has been found at both eastern and western sections of the north wall, the western one being 4,4 metres long (13,5 ft). The gate itself, presumably made of wood, has collapsed and so far, the archaeologists have found only earth.
Until now, scholars were unsure whether the north gate really existed and the orientation of the tomb was not clear. The report speculated the first emperor’s tomb could run from south to north.
The tomb of China’s first emperor, Qin Shihuangdi (also written Ch’in Shih Huang Ti) who reigned from 221 to 210 B.C. was begun in 215 and includes the vast terracotta army of men, horses and chariots first discovered by farmers in 1974. The emperor’s tomb has been located, but archaeologists do not yet wish to open it for fear of causing damage.
Historian John Keay, in his book, China, A History, quotes from China’s Grand Historian,(Ssu Ma Ch’ien) who describes the tomb, saying there were:
“Replicas of palaces, scenic towers, and the hundred officials, as well as rare utensils and wondrous objects, were brought to fill in the tomb…Mercury was used to fashion imitations of the hundred rivers, the Yellow River and the Yangzi, and the seas, constructed in such a way that they seemed to flow.were representations of the heavenly bodies, below, the features of the earth.”
Unlike some earlier Chinese tombs, instead of sacrificing humans to serve the ruler in the next life, his servants were made of terracotta so they could always keep their shape, instead of reverting to dust like human servants.