Possible 'arms dump' unearthed in Mausoleum of Qinshihuang

Updated: 2013-12-23 14:02

(People's Daily Online)

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A massive "arms dump" may have been unearthed by archeologists in a pit at the Mausoleum of Qinshihuang, the First Qin Emperor – yet another new discovery among many that have been made since excavation of the mausoleum started in 1974, according to a CCTV news report.

The Mausoleum of Qinshihuang is considered to be one of the largest and most finely structured emperor tombs in the world. Accompanying Pit No. K9801, or the pit currently under excavation, is a 13,000 square-meter underground chamber within the necropolis complex. There are indications that it is probably a large arms dump, according to information released by the Emperor Qingshihuang’s Mausoleum Site Museum on Tuesday.

The pit is located to the southeast of the mausoleum, between the inner and outer cities. 200 meters away from the tomb mound, the 130 meter long, 100 meter wide rectangular pit is the largest accompanying pit yet discovered within the mausoleum walls. To date, 87 pieces of armor and 43 stone helmets have been excavated from the pit.

The armor and helmets were made using more advanced techniques than those employed to produce the terracotta warriors. According to expert analysis, jade processing techniques may have been adapted to produce the armor and helmets. Trials have indicated that it takes between 340 and 440 days to produce a hand-made suit of armor from 600 pieces of stone if a man works 8 hours a day, and there are approximately 5 million stone pieces in the pit. Imagine the amount of labor involved in building the whole mausoleum!

The individual pieces of armor were connected by flat bronze wires and were stacked in an orderly manner. Archeologists believe that this provides clear evidence that strict discipline and a rigid hierarchy existed in the Qin army .

In this enormous pit, it is estimated that there are thousands of pieces of stone armor and helmets, as well as bridle reins, components of bronze chariots, bronze adzes, arrowheads and other military equipment that have also been unearthed previously in Pit No.2. Therefore, experts believe this pit would be more aptly described as the “arms dump” of the underground palace.