Last Updated 09 Apr 2020

Tomb of Shihuangdi

Category China
Essay type Research
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Tomb of Shihuangdi Professor Carney Hum 111 Joanna Davis January 23, 2012 Qin Shihuangdi, born Ying Zheng was one of the most influential rulers of all China. It is believed that Shihuangdi was father by one of two men, Zichu a son of the king of Qin at the time. Zichu was sent as a hostage to the state of Zhao during a dispute between the two kingdoms (Lindesay p. 4). Eventually Zichu was allowed to live freely in Zhao.

There he became acquainted with a rich, but conniving merchant named Lu Buwei, who had a concubine. When Zichu became interested in the concubine, Lu Buwei stepped aside and eventually helped them escaped to Qin where Zichu shortly became king (Lindesay p. 4). Shortly after arriving in Qin, Ying Zheng (later to become Shihaungdi) was born. It was never revealed whether Zichu or Lu Buwei was his father. At only thirteen Shihuangdi took control of the Qin Dynasty, which was a start of a great rule for the young emperor.

Many accomplishments were accredited to his rule, The Great Wall, a road system throught the kingdom, a written script that unified all of China, and of course his mystifying tomb that contain life-sized soldiers of the Terra Cotta Army. Many theories surround his tomb. Probably one of the most fascinating archaeological discoveries was his tomb with over 6,000 life-size soldiers buried with the emperor. One theory that could be believable was that he feared death, therefore he was always in search of immortality. In seeking immortality Shihaungdi made at least three pilgrimages to Zhifu Island seeking immortality.

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In one case of he sent Xu Fu, a Zhifu islander, with ships carrying hundreds of men and women in search of the mystical Penglai mountain (Wintle p. 61, p. 71). Penglai mountain was said to be the home for the Eight immortals and the 1,000 year old magician Anqi Sheng who Shihaungdi supposedly met while traveling, invited him to seek him there (Pregadio p. 199). The people that was sent on the voyage never returned with any evidence of the immortal, or the magician, perhaps in fear of returning without any news they would be executed.

Legend states they reached Japan and colonized it (Cavendish p. 17). Many of the Emperor’s best scholars were also executed for not being able to produce any evidence of supernatural powers. Since Shihaungdi was afraid of death he had workers build tunnels and passage ways to each of his palace, thinking this would protect him from the evil spirits, as he traveled unseen. Death In 211 BC a large meteor is said to have fallen in the lower reaches of the Yellow River. On it was the words inscribed “The First Emperor will die and his land will be divided (Liang p. 5).

When he heard of this, he sent an imperial secretary to investigate this prophecy. When no one would confess, everybody living nearby was put to death. On September 10, 210 BC (Julian Calendar),while on one of his tours to Eastern China the Emperor died. Reportedly, he died from ingesting mercury pills, made by his court scientists and doctors (Wright p. 49). Ironically Shihaungdi ingested the pills thinking they would make him immortal (Wright p. 49). Perhaps there maybe some truth to this theory surrounding his death due to the fact high levels of mercury was found in his tomb.

References Cavendish, M. (2006). China Condensed: 5000 Years of History & Culture. Liang, Y. (2007). The Leitimation of New orders: Case Studies in World History. Chinese University Press. Lindesay, W. (2008). The Terracotta Army of the First Emperor of China. Airphoto International Ltd. Man, J. (2008). The Terra Cotta Army. Da Capo Press, Cambridge, MA Wintle, J. (2002) China. Rough Guides Publishing. Wright, D. (2001). The History of China. Greenwood Publishing Group.

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