Why has the tomb of China's First Emperor not yet been excavated?

According to the Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terracotta_Army), the Terracotta Army guarding the tomb of Qin Shi Huangdi, the First Emperor of China, was discovered in 1974 and has been thoroughly excavated – yet the emperor’s tomb itself has not been excavated, even though there appears to be no doubt as to its location (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qin_Shi_Huang_Di). Why is that? Is it possible that the modern and “Communist” Chinese still have some superstitious fear of disurbing the emperor’s tomb?

My understanding is that investigations are ongoing and the intention is to excavate the rest of the site in due course, though that may be decade away.
The terracotta army itself has been a major headache to look after - though obviously also a great source of tourist income - and the archaeologists realise that the site is a long-term commitment. If the legends about the central tomb are even remotely true, then the project of excavating it will have to be huge and incrediably complicated. There’s no obvious need to rush into it.
It’s quite possible we’ll never see it opened in any of our lifetimes.

Don’t forget the evil curse…

As bonzer said, the Chinese government wants to do this one right. So many archeological sites in China have been plundered, damaged by war, damaged by sheer ineptitude, etc, that for this very key part of Chinese history/mythology that they are being careful.

also the Chinese government wants to be very careful in interpreting what is uncovered. For example, it would really be shocking if it was found that the first emperor was non-Han Chinese such as Korean or Mongolian. One always interprets history in China through the current political lense.

Naaaaaah! :slight_smile:

Off the top of my head, it’s about 40 years ago that archaeologists began to realize that, given the vast improvements in techniques and in science (what kind of tests could be run on objects, including but not limited to C[sub]14[/sub] tests, that if they only excavate part of any site, and leave more than 50% for the next generation - or the next, or the next, ad infinitum), this would permit a far more complete reconstruction of the past at later dates. So, in the interests of science, history, and the future, it’s being done pretty much everywhere (though there are some people who will excavate an entire site, even though their peers will not approve).

China is turning out some outstanding young archaeologists. When I took Intro Archaeo, about 10 years ago, I got the new prof, who was from China.

I’d kept holding off on taking that class, as I did not like his predecessor, and there were faculty strains between him and my mentor in the dept. I had to take a different course, ten years before that, from another prof who also didn’t get along with my mentor (the two were buddies, of the same religious origin. It was “them against the world”), and the jerk gave me a B, when it should have been an A (the only B I got for any anthro dept course).

What, me egotistical? No, more like arrogant; it dawned on me very early in life that I had more efficient wetware than average. But I try really hard to restrain myself from being too obnoxious. I probably do a better job of it in person, but I do try.

Ennyhoo, if you’re willing to wait another 20-30 years, you should be able to see some uhMAYzing anthro, archaeo and geologic stuff being added to the world’s heritage, as these younger scientists seem to be all over Chinese territory, doing careful and thorough science.

Chinese might be affraid that instead of Emperor with mongoloid features they uncover blond haired, fair skinned, blue eyed one.

Yes, and he is still alive sailing ove rhis sea of mercury, just waiting for the pitiful mortals to reawaken him!

Soon, Qin the Emperor shall rule the world!

Qin Shi Huangdi (Ying Zheng) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qin_Shi_Huangdi) was from the western state of Qin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qin_(state)), centered on the city of Xianyang – near what is now Xi’an (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xi’an). the capital of Shaanxi province (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shaanxi). What are the chances he was ethnically non-Chinese?

No, no, you’re confusing him with Cthulhu.

No, no–Cthulhu has no Mercury, you’re confusing him with Tuna.
:smiley: :cool: