Xian Tombs of the Qin Dynasty

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1 Xian Tombs of the Qin Dynasty By History.com, adapted by Newsela staff In 221 B.C., Qin Shi Huang became emperor of China, and started the Qin Dynasty. At this time, the area had just emerged from over 200 years of conflict known as the Warring States Period. Emperor Qin Shi Huang is credited with unifying the warring provinces under one centralized government and establishing the capital at Xianyang. By making the government more centralized and unified, they now had the power to lead a huge workforce able to accomplish remarkable building projects. Soon, they put up several palaces and a huge park for hunting and other outdoor recreation. It also led to an early version of the Great Wall of China, a massive wall constructed to protect China s northern borders. Another major project was the emperor s elaborate burial complex. It was built during his lifetime and reportedly took an estimated 700,000 workers about three decades to complete. An ancient discovery In 1974, peasants working in a field approximately 20 miles east of Xian stumbled upon a burial site. It was soon identified as the tomb complex of the first emperor. This find was touted as one of the most important archaeological discoveries of the 20th century. Excavation of the area began almost immediately. By 1975, early digs and surveys estimated that the site spanned some 20 square miles. In addition to a pyramid mound marking the emperor s tomb, they found remains of a palace, offices, store houses and stables complete with horses bones and straw. There were special altars, or tables, where creatures were sacrificed. Cemeteries for workers who were killed were also found. Four pits were unearthed, three of which contained thousands of life-size figures, most in fragments. The fourth pit was empty, suggesting the burial site was left unfinished. Researchers discovered roughly 8,000 soldiers made of terracotta, a type of baked clay. They had been arranged in battle formation. No two figures looked exactly the same. In addition to the soldiers, clay horses, bronze chariots, weapons and other artifacts were unearthed at the site.

2 Mass-produced clay figures The demanding work of uncovering, protecting and restoring such remarkable artifacts continued into the early 21st century. Researchers discovered the complex had been robbed, probably sometime soon after the emperor s death, and many of the terracotta figures were vandalized. It is possible, however, that the emperor s own tomb was not violated. Restorers set about putting the figures back together again. They built bodies, replaced heads, fixed painted surfaces and assembled numerous chariots and several hundred horses. The restoration process revealed how the figures originally had been made. An estimated 700,000 convicts and laborers were forced into work. Craftsmen who knew how to make terracotta drainage pipes used their skill to create the figures. They used molds and an assembly-line production system to make body parts. Once the figures were assembled, they were decorated with special features made of clay. Author Frances Wood writes in her book China s First Emperor and his Terracotta Warriors that the figures are the most extraordinary example of creative mass-production in the world. Researchers have been working at the burial complex since the 1970s. However, the emperor s burial chamber is still unopened. There are fears of damaging the artifacts and the emperor s corpse, as this happened in earlier botched archeological work in China. There are also concerns that opening the chamber may be dangerous. Mercury in the emperor's chamber In a 1st century B.C. account titled The Grand Scribe s Records, the grave and its contents are described. The author claims that the chamber was decorated to look like a copy of Earth. Precious stones were put in the ceiling to mark stars and planets, and streams in the floor were made of liquid mercury to represent local rivers. Modern surveys have proven that the ground around the burial chamber has dangerously high amounts of mercury. Therefore, debate continues about whether to dig up this area of the burial ground and what method might be used to both protect what's inside and the people doing the work. The discovery of the burial complex and its terracotta army brought worldwide attention to the city of Xian, along with the need to prepare for visitors. By the late 1970s, part of the site was opened for tourists. Museums were built nearby to display artifacts. As tourism increased, the city of Xian opened more hotels, restaurants and gift shops. Soon the area was one of the premier tourist attractions in China, with tour groups arriving daily. In 1987, the tomb complex was named a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site.

3 Name Period Date Xian Tombs of the Qin Dynasty By History.com, adapted by Newsela staff 1. Read the selection from the section "Mass-produced clay figures." However, the emperor s burial chamber is still unopened. There are fears of damaging the artifacts and the emperor s corpse, as this happened in earlier botched archeological work in China. There are also concerns that opening the chamber may be dangerous. Why did the author used the word "botched"? A. to convey the sense that past errors have ruined valuable artifacts B. to convey the sense that working on other digs in China is more important C. to convey the sense that scientists are afraid of what they might find in the tomb D. to convey the sense that doing archaeological work is particularly difficult in China 2. Read the selection from the section "An ancient discovery." It was soon identified as the tomb complex of the first emperor. This find was touted as one of the most important archaeological discoveries of the 20th century. Excavation of the area began almost immediately. Which two words could BEST replace "touted" and "excavation" in the selection above? A. sold; blasting B. advertised; mining C. hailed; investigation D. bragged; exploitation 3. Read the following selections from the article. 1. They had been arranged in battle formation. No two figures looked exactly the same. 2. Craftsmen who knew how to make terracotta drainage pipes used their skill to create the figures. They used molds and an assembly-line production system to make body parts. 3. Once the figures were assembled, they were decorated with special features made of clay. 4. Precious stones were put in the ceiling to mark stars and planets, and streams in the floor were made of liquid mercury to represent local rivers. Which two selections taken together provide the BEST evidence that realistic details were important to the people decorating the tomb? A. 1 and 2 B. 2 and 3 C. 3 and 4 D. 1 and 4 4. Read the following statement. The area included in the burial site discovered at Xian had existed and functioned like a small city. Which sentence from the article provides the BEST support for the inference above? A. It was built during his lifetime and reportedly took an estimated 700,000 workers about three decades to complete. B. By 1975, early digs and surveys estimated that the site spanned some 20 square miles. C. In addition to a pyramid mound marking the emperor s tomb, they found remains of a palace, offices, store houses and stables complete with horses bones and straw. D.. As tourism increased, the city of Xian opened more hotels, restaurants and gift shops.

4 Observe: Examine the images in the article. What are three important details you observe in the images in the article? Elaborate by explaining why these details are important using evidence from the article to support your thinking.

5 Xian Tombs of the Qin Dynasty * By History.com, adapted by Newsela staff In 221 B.C., Qin Shi Huang became emperor of China. Back then, China was made up of many different states. For 200 years, the states were at war with each other. Emperor Qin Shi Huang helped bring the states together. They united under one national government. He started the Qin Dynasty. This new government gathered workers from across the land. These workers would go on to construct remarkable buildings. Soon, they put up palaces. They built a huge park for hunting. They also started building the Great Wall of China. The huge wall was to protect China s northern borders. One of their most famous projects was a large tomb. The first emperor's burial site In 1974, people were working in a field near the Chinese city Xian. They came upon something strange. It was a huge burial site that stretched for miles. Soon, it was found that the first emperor was buried in this tomb. This was a very important finding. Diggers found remains of a palace and offices. There were even stables lined with horses bones. Four pits were found. Inside three of them, they found something surprising: thousands of statues of Chinese soldiers. These statues were made of hardened clay. Each one was a little bit different. Clay horses, weapons and other objects were also inside.

6 Broken clay soldiers Workers found the site had been robbed. Many of the clay soldiers were vandalized, or damaged on purpose. Most of the clay soldiers were broken into pieces. Scientists worked hard to dig them up and rebuild them. Soon, scientists found out how the figures had been made. They believe 700,000 people were forced into work. It took about 30 years for them to finish making the statues. These workers were lined up like in a factory. Each person had a job of making a certain part. A tomb decorated with planets and rivers To this day, the emperor s burial room is still unopened. Scientists do not want to damage what is in there. Later, writings made from around 0 to 100 B.C. were found that described the burial site. The writings said that the tomb was made to look like Earth. There are precious stones in the ceiling. These were put there to look like stars and planets. Streams were carved in the floor to look like rivers. These rivers had mercury in them. Mercury is a liquid metal. It is dangerous to touch. People think digging up the area may be unsafe. Soon, the city of Xian became popular for travelers. Many people wanted to visit the clay soldiers. Museums were built nearby to show pieces that were found. As more visitors came, Xian grew and built more businesses.

7 Name Period Date Xian Tombs of the Qin Dynasty * By History.com, adapted by Newsela staff 1. Read the selection from the introduction [paragraphs 1-5]. These workers would go on to construct remarkable buildings. Soon, they put up palaces. They built a huge park for hunting. They also started building the Great Wall of China. What is the BEST definition of "remarkable" based on the context clues? A. old and damaged B. painted and decorated C. large and important D. strange and surprising 2. Read the paragraph from the section "The first emperor's burial site." It was a huge burial site that stretched for miles. Soon, it was found that the first emperor was buried in this tomb. This was a very important finding. Which word could replace "burial site" WITHOUT changing the meaning of the sentence? A. gravel B. road C. palace D. room 3. Read the section "Broken clay soldiers." Select the sentence that explains HOW the clay soldiers were made. A. Most of the clay soldiers were broken into pieces. B. Scientists worked hard to dig them up and rebuild them. C. It took about 30 years for them to finish making the statues. D. Each person had a job of making a certain part. 4. Read the section "A tomb decorated with planets and rivers." Select the paragraph that describes how the tomb looks inside. A. First paragraph B. Second paragraph C. Third paragraph

8 Observe: Examine the images in the article. What are three important details you observe in the images in the article? Elaborate by explaining why these details are important using evidence from the article to support your thinking.

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