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Supposed Traps at Qin Shihuang’s Burial Site

As China's first emperor’s burial complex, Emperor Qin’s Mausoleum is always deemed to be filled with deadly traps. But is this true?

It’s not clear if traps are really installed there, though many detailed articles make it feel as though they are. After all, there is no official archaeological report of traps so far.

Please note that all the traps mentioned below are just surmised to be in the Mausoleum, but not proved to be there.

Crossbow Mechanism

According to historical records, Qin Shihuang ordered artisans to make repeating crossbow mechanisms and install them at the entrance of the tunnel. Anyone entering the mausoleum would trigger deadly loaded crossbows and be shot by their powerful arrows.

Turning Slates

The path leading to Emperor Qin’s tomb is paved with turning slates, full of vertical sharp knives below. If trespassers step on the path, with one end of the slate reversing, they will fall on the knives under the path. Because of the physical force, the slates will immediately turn round and be restored to their original state, waiting for next time.

Drift Sand Formation

There is believed to be sand in Qin Shihuang's mausoleum. Many mausoleums built in the Warring States period (475–221 BC) have been found to use shifting-sands. So it is surmised a layer of quicksand was established in the mausoleum. Once intruders dig into the layer, quicksand would plunge into the tomb and bury them.

Pools of Poisonous Mercury

Mercury is hypertoxic, and it is supposed that there was a large amount of mercury put in the tomb of Qin Shihuang. Imperial engineers used it to create the appearance of rivers, lakes and seas. But more importantly, mercury can be a great anti-theft trap, because its volatile gas could be strong enough to kill any invaders entering the tomb.

Sleeping Fire

The sleeping fire actually works according to modern chemistry. In ancient tombs, the conjunction of combustible gas and flammable, usually biogas and phosphorus, could make a conflagration. Once the tomb was opened, the two substances would be joined, and the resulting fire would be strong enough to devour all intruders.

To this day, there are still people who believe the Qin Shihuang Palace has not yet opened because there are a lot of deadly traps inside.

There are all kinds of differing argument, but according to historical records, there may indeed be traps in the tomb of Qin Shihuang. We do not know what they are and cannot be sure whether they are still active. So let’s just take it as a mystery legend, until some day we can really get inside the tomb.

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