Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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China's Great Enigma Volume 54 Number 5, September/October 2001
by Erling Ho

What's inside the unexcavated tomb of Emperor Qin Shihuangdi?

The weathered tumulus of Qin Shihuangdi, China's first emperor, has sat among the wheatfields and fruit trees east of Xian for over two millennia. While the discovery three decades ago of the fabled terra-cotta warriors that guard the emperor came as a complete surprise, the burial mound has always been known. But to this day, the tomb of Qin Shihuangdi remains untouched by the spades of archaeologists. A conundrum wrapped in legends and rumors, the resting place of the first emperor, believed to be a virtual underground palace, holds the promise of remarkable discoveries that stagger the minds of those who have studied it, contemplated it, and who dream of unearthing it.

Erling Ho is ARCHAEOLOGY's Stockholm correspondent.

© 2001 by the Archaeological Institute of America