The ambition of the First Emperor went on in afterlife - the mission of Qin Empire's undead army
In 221 BC, the Empire Qin unified China by conquering six kingdoms. Its emperor Qin Shi Huang Di declared himself the First Emperor of China. On the second year after his death, his tremendous mausoleum was finally completed. His son, the new emperor, executed all the workers who built the mausoleum to seal the secret of Qin Shi Huang Di under the earth.
700 thousand prisons of war, slaves, and soldiers had spent 38 years and sacrificed their life to construct the First Emperor's mausoleum to fulfill one great man's dream of becoming immortal. 2184 years later in the year of 1974, discovered by some Chinese peasants digging a well, the terracotta warriors stunned the world and proved to be one of the greatest archaeological discoveries in the human history. The mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor is a World Heritage site listed by UNESCO in 1987.
It is such an incredible thing that each life-sized terracotta warrior is lively and unique like a real person. Are they portraits? Recently, three Qin soldiers' family letters have been unearthed from the mausoleum suggesting that this guess could be true.
One soldier wrote to his mother "Mom, if cloth is expensive in our hometown, send me some money. I can buy some cloth to make up a coat by myself." Another soldier wrote in his letter "Today our emperor's army destroyed Chu kingdom, so we are given order that everyone can drink wine." The third wrote "I work carefully every day. If I painted the wrong lacquer on the weapon, I will be punished strictly by the law officer."
From the letters above we can see that the First Emperor strictly ordered his soldiers guard, work and live on the construction camp of his mausoleum. The over 8,000-strong life-sized terracotta army outside the mausoleum were likely to be the portraits of these soldiers. Besides the terracotta warriors, there are several hundreds of life-sized terracotta warhorses and bronze and wooden chariots. The whole army perfectly matched the number and the organization of an elite Legion of Qin Empire. The terracotta army was in a battle formation when they were discovered. Were they solely made to guard the emperor's mausoleum? More likely the answer is negative.
According to what Chinese people believe in the past, there is a nether world after death. What a man brings to the underground world after his death determine what type of life he will live in his afterlife. In 2000, breakthrough has been made in the research of First Emperor's mausoleum. Twelve special terracotta statues were discovered. Each is different from the former statues which were soldiers and commanders. These statues appeared to be civil and law officers. Mentioned in one of the Qin soldiers' family letter, wrong conducts will be strictly punished with no mercy by the law officers. The recent archaeological discovery strongly suggests that the terracotta army was not created to be the mausoleum guards but the elite army that the First Emperor going to command in the world after his death. The First Emperor even brought civil and law officers with him in an attempt to unify the nether world.
If we know what inside the First Emperor's mausoleum, the answer will become clear. Legend has gone on that inside the First Emperor's mausoleum is an immortal world. In that world, mercury running in the rivers, and gems shinning on the sky like stars. Although the mausoleum is still remained sealed under the ground, technology has made incredible discovery that the legend is very likely to be true. In the recent analysis on the mercury level contained in soil above the mausoleum, scientists marked different mercury levels in different colors to create a map of the mausoleum. The result was stunning. The mercury seas outline a map of Qin Dynasty China. The two mercury rivers resemble two major rivers (i.e. Yellow River and Yangtze River) of China, and are sited exactly at the right place on the China map.
How great ambition of an emperor could be? The First Empire of China might be the only man in the history had such great will and power that no one after him could even come close.