A noted Chinese archaeologist has located the tomb of Ziying, the third and last emperor of the Qin Dynasty (221-207 BC) about 500 metres from the mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shihuang in the suburbs east of Xi’an, capital of the northwestern Shaanxi Province.
Ziying’s tomb, 109 meters long, 26 meters wide and 15.5 meters deep, was the second largest in the area after the grave of the first emperor himself, said Yuan Zhongyi, former curator at the Museum
of the Terracotta Warriors and Horses of Qin Shihuang.
The tomb was found in 2003, and archaeologists have since been trying to identify its occupant. Subsequent excavations of bronze ware and textiles indicated the tomb dated back to the Qin Dynasty.
Yuan, who has been excavating and studying heritage pieces from the mausoleum since 1974, has come to the conclusion that the most likely occupant was Ziying, who ruled the Qin Dynasty for 46 days before it ended and he himself was killed.
"This one has to be Ziying’s tomb as the tombs of all other rulers of Qin have been located. It was natural to bury the last emperor hastily close to the mausoleum when Qin toppled," the official Xinhua News Agency quoted Yuan as saying.
He said the size, location, and sacrificial items contained in the tomb also indicated the very high status enjoyed by its owner.
Ironically, while Qin Shihuang has always been remembered as the emperor who built the Great Wall
and had an entire army of clay warriors and horses sculpted to help him rule in the afterlife, his empire outlived him by only three years, according to the new find.
When Qin Shihuang died in 210 BC, his youngest son, Hu Hai, ascended the throne. Within three years the Qin Empire fell apart and the second emperor committed suicide. His tomb is located in the southern suburbs of Xi’an.
But the true identity of Qin’s last emperor Ziying remains controversial. Some historians say, he was the nephew or elder brother of the second emperor, while others believe he was the younger brother of Qin Shihuang. No one knows who was killed in 206 BC.