Archaeologists Reveal An Ancient Tomb With 8,000 Life-Sized Sculptures

In 1974, Chinese farmers dug up an unusual discovery while creating a well. Without knowing it, they had discovered the largest necropolis on earth, which had been buried for over 2,000 years. It was the burial site of China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang (sometimes spelled Huangdi).

The tomb contained 8,000 life-sized sculptures, a pyramid, a palace, and numerous treasures. It’s so big that archaeologists have only explored 1% after half a century. To learn about the Mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang, keep reading.

Unknowingly Selling Historical Relics

A view shows relics of a buried ancient terracotta warrior.
China Photos/Getty Images
China Photos/Getty Images

On March 29th, 1974, farmer Yang Zhifa and his five brothers were digging a well at the base of a mountain in Xi’an, China. Around six feet down, the men dug up red pottery, terracotta bricks, and arrowheads. While the villagers repurposed the terracotta into bricks, Zhifa sold the arrowheads to a commercial agency.

In May, a team of archaeologists from the Shaanxi province arrived at the well. They continued digging in the area that would eventually become the first excavation site.