CHINA UNEARTHS ANCIENT PALACE
GUARDED BY TERRACOTTA ARMY
ARCHAEOLOGISTS have unearthed the mortuary palace of Qin Shi Huang, China's first feudal emperor, inside the vast and sprawling mausoleum which is famous for the terracotta warrior army guarding the enormous complex.
On a scale that would impress even Emperor Hadrian, the palace is 2,264 feet (690 meters) long and 820 feet (250 meters) wide. And yet, it is only one complex in the first Chinese emperor's vast 22 square-mile (56 square kilometer) 2nd Century BC mausoleum.
The palace complex, about a quarter of the size of Beijing's Forbidden City, consists of 18 courtyard-style houses and one main building in the center, researcher Sun Weigang said, according to The Guardian newspaper.
Sun said that the palace was a clear predecessor to the Forbidden City, built in the 1400s and later occupied by emperors during the later Ming and Qing dynasties, as both were built on north-south axes in keeping with traditional Chinese cosmology.
Archaeologists told Xinhua news agency that despite more than 2,000 years of exposure, the foundations were well preserved. Researchers found walls, gates, stone roads, pottery and some bricks among the remains of the ancient palace.
While archaeologists have been excavating the foundations since 2010, the main burial chamber of China's First Emperor has yet to be explored. Researchers worry that without the sufficient tools, excavating the main chamber would do more harm than good. And damage the precious artifacts inside.
According to reports written by the Han dynasty scholar Sima Qian centuries after the emperor's death, Qin Shi Huang's tomb is 394 feet (120 meters) high, encased by vermillion stonewalls and surrounded by rivers of mercury and protected by booby traps. The tomb's ceiling is also believed to be covered with precious jewels.