Is there really a “river and sea” made of mercury in the mausoleum of Qinshihuang?

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The results of the “geophysical exploration” of the Ritan temple in Beijing in 1996 have been disappointing. As early as 1983, in the paper “preliminary study on the burial of mercury in the mausoleum of the first emperor of Qin” published in the 7th issue of archaeology, Mr. Chang Yong and Mr. Li Tong said that “a large amount of water and silver are buried in the underground palace of the first emperor of Qin”, there are more problems. This article tells people that in the process of measuring the soil mercury content of the whole mound, only one point has a content of 1440ppb, and the average content of the remaining 53 points is only 205ppb. It is said that the mercury content in the soil near the Yuchi reservoir, 2370 meters away from the sealed soil, is only 5~65ppb. Therefore, the conclusion that the mercury content in the sealed soil is abnormal is reached, and it is further determined that the reason for the abnormal mercury content in the sealed soil is from the underground palace of the first emperor of Qin Dynasty, which has the “Mercury” symbolizing the river and sea.

Once the material was published, it immediately attracted widespread attention at home and abroad. Some people believed that this was the historical record of the mausoleum of the first emperor of Qin “taking mercury as the river and sea”, which was affirmed by contemporary scientific and technological means. They believed that this was the irrefutable evidence that the construction of the underground palace exceeded the boundaries of time and space. According to this, more authorities proposed that although the first emperor of Qin himself died for more than 2000 years due to the protection of a large amount of mercury, he might still lie in the underground palace intact. Of course, some experts and scholars have raised logical doubts about the authenticity and adaptability of the results of “geophysical exploration”. For example, at the 1986 Symposium on terracotta warriors, someone questioned the saying of “abnormal mercury”: if the viewpoint of terracotta warriors museum is to be established, the following possibilities of external mercury pollution must be excluded first.

First, it is necessary to eliminate the mercury containing wastewater and waste gas discharged from the electroplating workshop of Shaanxi sewing machine factory, and all kinds of pollution caused by the earth sealing of the mausoleum of the first emperor of Qin Dynasty; Second, the crops near the mausoleum of the first emperor of Qin should be excluded, and various pesticides containing mercury have been used; Third, it should be ruled out that mercury containing detonators have been used in the blasting process of Lishan Mountain opening project for a long time. The phenomenon of mercury pollution in Lintong area is a problem that cannot be ignored. “Lintong county annals” said: “from 1978 to 1980, a general survey was conducted on benzene, mercury and lead workers in the county, involving 1193 people poisoned in 21 factories (sewing machine factory, blower factory, etc.) “Records of Shaanxi Province” said: “in Chang’an, Lintong and Lantian counties, most of the toxic substances such as mercury and arsenic in pesticides remain in the soil and penetrate into the ground, polluting the groundwater.”

The seriousness of mercury pollution caused by electroplating, chemical, papermaking, tanning, dye and other enterprises in the production process is well known. In addition, mercury pollution in pesticides is also very serious. According to “Shaanxi agriculture and animal husbandry annals”, Shaanxi Province “has used organochlorine pesticides, organic mercury fungicides sailisan and xilisheng since 1950; dimethoate, sailisan and xilisheng were widely used in the late 1950s; in the 1960s, organic mercury sailisan and xilisheng were still the main fungicides; until 1978, the use of organic mercury fungicides sailisan and xilisheng was stopped.” According to the book “Chinese soil” by Mr. Xiong Yi, a famous soil scientist, the mercury content of soil is generally 10~300ppb, and the mercury content of topsoil is often higher than that of subsoil. When the soil is polluted by mercury, the mercury content can reach an ultra-high value of 40000~500000 ppb.

Experts questioned that if a large amount of mercury was concentrated in the underground palace of the mausoleum of the first emperor of Qin Dynasty, its underground was undoubtedly a huge source of mercury pollution, and there should be medical history data caused by mercury pollution in history; Moreover, technical data of mercury anomalies should also be measured in the wells of several villages close to the sealing soil of the mausoleum of the first emperor of Qin. It must also be emphasized that in order to completely eliminate the possibility of external pollution, it is also necessary to continue to take soil samples downward and directly to the bottom of the tomb at the 1440ppb mercury anomaly site at the top of the soil sealing, and measure the mercury content at each depth respectively. If the mercury content from the bottom of the tomb to the vertical direction of the soil sealing shows a gradual decreasing trend, “from bottom to top”, then the source of the mercury anomaly of the soil sealing can be proved, Indeed, it is not outside the enclosure, but deep in the underground palace.

The average abundance of mercury in the earth’s crust is 0.08ppm, soil is 0.03~0.3ppm, and atmosphere is 0.1~1.0ppt. Mercury is vaporized in the atmosphere, so there is also mercury in rainwater, with an average concentration of 0.2ppb. The background concentration of mercury in water is 0.1ppb for inland groundwater, 0.03~2ppb for seawater, and more than 80ppb for spring water. Therefore, in the process of measuring the amount of mercury in the soil of the mound of the first emperor of Qin Dynasty, except for the point that the content reaches 1440ppb, which is indeed abnormal, the average content of the other 53 points reaches 205ppb, which is also within the normal range of the average abundance of the crust soil body of 0.03~0.3ppm (i.e. 30~300ppb); The mercury content of groundwater here does not exceed the normal value of 80ppb. It can be seen that the statement that the mercury content in the sealed soil of the first emperor of Qin seriously exceeded the standard is very untrue.

A scholar in Xi’an believed in the words “taking mercury as the river and sea, instilled by camera” in the historical records, so he proposed that “there are more than 13000 tons of mercury deep in the underground palace of the mausoleum of the first emperor of Qin, and they have been flowing continuously for thousands of years”. In his eyes, there is a unique “perpetual motion machine” in the underground palace of the first Qin Emperor’s mausoleum. People can comment on whether this view of “perpetual motion machine” conforms to the laws of science. People still have a lot to say about the source of more than 13000 tons of mercury. Because so far, the mercury produced by modern equipment in China is only more than 900 tons per year. In the Qin Dynasty, the Fuling mercury mine in Sichuan, where the “widow Ba” was famous for producing mercury, until the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the mercury paid to the imperial court was only more than 300 kilograms per year.

To fill 13000 tons of mercury into the underground palace of the first emperor of Qin Dynasty, according to the estimation of the amount of tribute paid during the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the “widow of Ba” in Sichuan has to produce for more than 90000 years to meet the requirements. You know, if there are more than 13000 tons of mercury in the underground palace dozens of meters deep, the mercury content that forms a “pollution circle” on the surface of the mound may reach an extremely high value of 500000~1000000ppb. Even if some scholars reduce the mercury in the underground palace to 200 tons, they have to let others produce it for more than 1330 years. Although astronomical mercury is impossible to obtain; The real river and sea can’t be moved into the narrow “room of questions”, but the ancient wise craftsmen still have the method and ability to create a landscape of “rivers and seas” with a special means!

In shuyiji, there are records of “Luban, taking stones as the map of Yu and Jiuzhou”, and in the book of the later Han Dynasty? Ma Yuanzhuan, there are records of “gathering rice as mountains, pointing out the terrain”, pointing out the land, and drawing “the maps of four dukes, five mountains, and other countries”, all of which are about making three-dimensional terrain models of “four dukes and five mountains”. Since there was the skill of making mountain models during the Qin Shihuang period, it is normal to put such models in the tomb. Anyone who is good at modeling knows that in a limited space, to make the river vivid, you only need to stick some silver powder on the corresponding parts or apply a layer of mercury. This method of using silver powder and mercury to express “water surface” is familiar to all teachers and students who worked in the model factory of the Department of architecture of Xi’an Institute of architecture and engineering.

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