The Mysterious Tomb of China’s First Emperor: Death Traps and Ancient Secrets

Deep in the Lintong District of Xi’an (Shaanxi Province) lies the mausoleum of China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang. This 2,200-year-old tomb still remains untouched, shrouded in mystery and fear. Archaeologists, despite their curiosity, have been hesitant to open it, fearing that deadly booby traps may lurk in the ancient chambers.

The necropolis, guarded by the legendary Terracotta Army – an army of life-size sculptures designed to protect the emperor in the afterlife – has been an object of fascination for centuries. However, while parts of the site have been explored, the tomb itself remains a forbidden territory.

Concerns about the discovery of the tomb stem from the accounts of the ancient Chinese historian Sima Qian. In his writings, written about 100 years after Qin Shi Huang’s death, he describes the presence of booby traps in the tomb. Artisans were ordered to make crossbows and arrows that were to shoot anyone who dared to enter the tomb. In addition, mercury was used to simulate rivers and seas, which flowed mechanically throughout the tomb.

Although some consider Sima Qian’s stories to be fantasy fiction, a recent study conducted in 2020 found evidence to support the presence of mercury in the tomb. The study found that the concentration of mercury around the tomb is much higher than expected. It is suspected that the highly volatile mercury may be escaping through cracks formed over time in the structure.

This discovery is consistent with historical evidence that Qin Shi Huangdi was obsessed with mercury. It is known that in his quest for eternal life, he consumed wine laced with mercury. There is even speculation that his untimely death at the age of 49 may have been the result of mercury poisoning.

However, fear of mercury is not the only obstacle preventing archaeologists from excavating the tomb. Another concern is the preservation of the terracotta army and Qin Shihuang’s tomb complex as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Any excavation or disturbance could damage these priceless historical treasures.

Qin Shi Huangdi’s Mausoleum and the artifacts surrounding it remain one of the most significant archaeological discoveries in history. The mystery that shrouds this ancient tomb continues to fascinate the world, keeping us guessing about the secrets it holds in its uncharted depths.

While archaeologists decide whether to open the tomb, one thing is certain: Qin Shi Huangdi’s legacy and his mysterious tomb will continue to intrigue and mystify generations to come.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x