The Underground Palace of the First Qin Emperor refers to the vault of the First Qin Emperor’s tomb which houses the emperor’s coffin and funerary objects. The Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor is situated at the foot of Lishan Mountain, 30 km east of Xi’an City. However, the location of the Underground Palace was not confirmed until 1962 when archeologists drew the first map of the layout of the Mausoleum. They discovered that the vault was right under the crown of the Mausoleum with dimensions of 170m x 145m x 35m. The Palace and coffin chamber were rectangular in shape with the coffin chamber at the heart of the Palace. The chamber is 15 m high with an area similar to that of a standard football field. Historical records found concerning the dimensions of the vault reveal that in 210 B.C. Li Si, the prime minister, reported to the First Qin Emperor that he was leading a construction team of 720,000 people to build the Mausoleum. Nonetheless, when they were digging, it seemed that they had reached the bottom of the earth and hollowed out the entire underground. The Emperor then commanded Li to “go 300 Zhang to the side”. This in fact is one of the reasons why the Underground Palace has not yet been located. Legend holds that the Palace is in Lishan Mountain, connected to the Mausoleum by a tunnel. When it rains, zombie soldier are spotted emerging from the tunnel astride their horses and clothed in full amour. Archeologists have examined this popular folktale, but no tunnel has found.

Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor

Jack Li

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