Thursday, February 02, 2006
I thoroughly enjoyed the new Discovery Channel program "The First Emperor: The Man Who Made China". Of course the emperor is the famous Qin Shi Huang Di whose spectacular terracotta army mesmerized the world upon its discovery in 1974.
I especially liked the theatrical quality of the live action dramatic sequences interspersed throughout the presentation. The excellent costuming and scope of the sequences recalled the breathtaking commercial film "Hero".
I was especially excited to learn that soil samples taken from the emperor's burial mound when mapped out on a grid of the tomb chamber clearly show high levels of mercury vapor in concentrations that truly represent the bodies of water enclosed within the Chinese empire at the time. It would be so exciting to open the tomb and find it is just as ancient historians claim, with a giant map of the empire represented on the floor with rivers and lakes of mercury representing the seas and rivers. I fear if the tomb is ever opened, however, that archaeologist will find much of it severly damaged, since both the terracotta warriors and the hundreds of sets of stone armor discovered in pits nearby reflect violent damage from uprisings following the emperors death.
Perhaps someday I will be able to visit China and see the warriors and tomb in person. At least I was able to see some of them and a spectacular jade burial suit when I attended a traveling exhibit of them a number of years ago in San Francisco.
See also Museum of Qin Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses