Saturday, March 9, 2013

Xi'An: Han Tombs

I took a course on Egyptian civilization in college and became obsessed with Egyptian history, especially the burial procedures. I mean, what's more interesting than removing a brain through your nostril? For my birthday one year, I even forced Matthew to take me to the King Tut exhibit in Philadelphia. But I still dreamed of visiting the pyramids and seeing the tombs for myself, filled with treasures once believed to be needed in the afterlife. While I haven't made it to Egypt yet, I did recently get to enter an Emperor's tomb, and it just so happened to be in China.

About 20 km outside of Xi'an sits the Yangling Mausoleum of the Han Dynasty. Built in 153 AD for Liu Qi and his empress,  the tomb covers an area of 20 square kilometers (4,942 acres) and is comprised of the emperor's tomb, empress' tomb, burial pits, a ceremonial site, human sacrifice graveyard and criminals' cemetery. I'm sure your ancestral burial plot also has those last two items.

While you can't enter the actual tomb (boo), you can explore the outer pits at China's first underground museum. The tomb contains around 50,000 doll-sized terracotta figures depicting humans and animals for use in the afterlife. The museums sits on the excavation site and has a glass floor so that you can look down on the ongoing excavations.






Even without any mention of brain removal, the Han Tombs are definetly worth a visit if you travel to Xi'An.

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