Part 4. Hanyangling Mausoleum
Han Yangling Mausoleum is the most explored mausoleum in Shaanxi province. It consisted of the two big pyramids and two little and a great many tombs of the nobles and officials. The Han Yangling Mausoleum was established in 1999 and opened in 2006.
I visited mausoleum several times during my trip to Xi’an in November 2008. There is a great scientific background which works at the museum that is located in the area of mausoleum. Many scientists, archaeologists, historians and cultural specialists work there. Assistant-director of Han Yangling professor Cao Fazhan invited me to see all archaeological locations after which we had some interesting conversations about the pyramids of the Western Han Dynasty.
In this report I describe the official scientific opinion about Han Yangling. From my part I would just like to say that the pyramids of Han Yangling, like all pyramids of Shaanxi, have never been excavated or researched. Only the area around the pyramids has been detailed, excavated and explored.
Official’s statements based on:
- archaeological findings (archaeological pits around pyramids)
- historical records
- excavation of a tomb of the Emperor of Ming Dynasty near Beijing.
Han Yangling Mausoleum is a large burial complex of the Jing Di emperor named Liu Qi (188 BC – 141 BC), he was the fourth emperor in the Western Han Dynasty and his official wife – Empress Wang.
The project began in 152 BC and was completed after 28 years in 126 BC. The mausoleum is located in the northwest of Xi’an. The whole complex was based on a plateau surrounded by the Jing river running to the North and Wei River to the South.
The burial mounds which have the classical form of truncated pyramids stand close to each other in the tomb area. The Emperor’s pyramid is in the west with 31 m (101.71 feet) high while the Empress’s pyramid is in the east with 25.5 m (83.66 feet) high.
Archaeologists found 81 burial pits radiating from the pyramid of the Emperor and 28 pits near the Empress’s tomb. There is a huge underground complex of 11 excavated burial pits located near the Emperor’s pyramid. Large numbers of relics were found there such as weapons, pottery animals and eunuchs, chariots and horses, pottery figures and many others interesting artefacts, vividly reproducing the imperial couture of the Western Han Dynasty.
Burial pits of the pyramid of the Emperor. (first photo is a scheme). All pits are protected by high quality Slovenian glasses
Pottery figures of the warriors, eunuchs ranging from 56 to 62 cm (1.83 – 2.03 feet) in height but the figures of pottery women ranged from 30 to 53-55 cm (0.9 – 1.8 feet) high on average.
There are many painted pottery of animals such as oxen, horses, chickens, piglets, sheep, dogs, fish. Animals were buried in two levels because they are very small no more than 50 cm. For example: one ox was 39 cm high, 71 cm long and 24.2 cm wide across its back.
The pyramid of the Emperor was surrounded by a wall with four gates oriented to the Earth’s cardinal points. The East Gate was the main. There were two towers on every gate for controlling and defending the surrounding territory. Today the wall has almost been totally destroyed by time and people; we just can see only the eastern gate which was reconstructed three years ago.
Two little pyramids of Emperor's concubinesThe Han Yangling Mausoleum is a colossal structure and a sacred place in central China but Han Yangling is only a little part of the great valley of pyramids.