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The Mystery of the Tomb of Shi Huangdi

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There are two slightly different theories on what the purpose was for such an elaborate burial place for emperor Qin Shi Huangdi. The first came from the well-known Chinese historian Sima Qian (145-90 BCE)(Sayre, 2012). He reports that the emperor started construction of his tomb as soon as he took the throne. Since he ruled for over 30 years gives one reason his burial place is so elaborate (Loewe, 2007). The second theory, from Prof. Steven J Ramold of Eastern Michigan University, states the Qin Tomb was created to make a statement in stone that a new China existed. This construction also provides a central reference point for Chinese history.

Prof. Ramold gives the most convincing reasons why the Qin Tomb is so elaborate. The emperor was a young ruler, 13 years old when he became the King that surpassed everyone that ruled before him and was able to conquer all six primary Chinese states. Therefore unifying China for the first time in its history (Ramold, 2004). He established a system of political divisions, Chinese law, introduced weight and measurement standards and formulated a single written Chinese alphabet and language. With all his national achievements he proclaimed himself a deity or holy person, and set out to become immortal. He also became obsessed with death and the representation of his achievements after his death. He created his Tomb as a monument to his grand accomplishments. Since he knew it would take years to complete he started it the same year he unified China(Sayre, 2012).

Loewe, M. (2007). CHINA’S FIRST EMPIRE. History Today, 57(9), 12-19. Ramold, S. (2004). Great events from history: the ancient world, prehistory-476 c.e. Construction of the Qin Tomb, Retrieved from http://salempress.com/store/samples/great_events_from_history_ancient_world/great_events_from_history_ancient_world_qin.htm Sayre, H. (2012). The humanities: Culture, continuity & change. (2nd ed., Vol. 1, pp. 220-236). Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall.

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