terça-feira, setembro 11, 2007

Algures para a semana
Somewhere deep (...), in a vast subterranean palace, lies the First Emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi. According to legend, he is interred in a gold casket sitting in a lake of liquid mercury. Snaking out across the 80-metre-long floor are streams of mercury that map the routes of those great waterways, the Yangtze and the Yellow River. The 15-metre-high ceiling is encrusted with pearls depicting the starry constellations. Antechambers reportedly contain the bodies of wives, concubines and advisers (not that their deaths coincided naturally; when it was Qin Shi Huangdi's time to go, friends and family were forced to follow him into the earth. (...)
The most outlandish claim about Qin Shi Huangdi - that he declared war on death itself - has now been proved true, so long after his demise. Sima Qian wrote in great detail about the subterranean mausoleum, recounting how the emperor's tomb, with its rivers of mercury and its jewel-encrusted ceiling, was protected by great underground ramparts. According to the historian, the fortifications, built way below the water table, were sealed watertight, and the tomb candles, made from whale oil, were designed to burn for eternity. He even described elaborate booby traps: artisans constructed crossbows that would be triggered mechanically, firing a volley of arrows at any unsuspecting grave-robber.
In recent years, geological surveys have proved his seemingly fanciful descriptions to be accurate. The subterranean chambers, protected by huge protective walls, really exist. Even more astonishing is the revelation that the subsoil of the tomb mound contains unnaturally high quantities of mercury, concentrated in a series of apparent channels - indicating that the silvery streams representing the Yangtze and the Yellow River are still flowing around a gold coffin.
Inexplicably, Sima Qian failed to mention the most audacious part of the plan. A mile from the tomb mound, in a series of enormous pits and deep trenches, stands the army of 7,000 imperial guardians.

It is estimated that a further 6,000 soldiers are buried here. Elsewhere on the 50-square-kilometre archaeological site that surrounds the central tomb mound, a further 56 man-made pits have been discovered, each containing more terracotta and bronze relics to furnish an empire of the afterlife. The second pit - similar in size to the first - contains the cavalry, their horses, chariots and extensive stables. The third pit appears to be a command centre, populated by generals and military strategists. In recent years, bronze birds, acrobats and scribes have been discovered in various underground chambers close to the emperor himself. A pit containing nothing but suits of stone armour - in which the individual scales of leather that made up Qin-era breastplates was replicated in terracotta - has recently been excavated.


Sem comentários: