China's first emperor ordered nationwide search for an elixir of life

Updated: Dec 26, 2017, 17:23 IST | Agencies

New archeological research has shed fresh light on China's first emperor -- creator of the world-famous terracotta army -- and his quest for eternal life, state media reported

New archeological research has shed fresh light on China's first emperor -- creator of the world-famous terracotta army -- and his quest for eternal life, state media reported. A set of wooden slips found in the central province of Hunan contain an executive order from emperor Qin Shihuang for a nationwide search for the elixir of life, along with replies from local governments, according to Xinhua news agency. It cited Zhang Chunlong, a researcher at the provincial institute of archaeology, as saying the emperor's decree reached even frontier regions and remote villages.

The emperor had also built an underground mausoleum filled with nearly 8,000 terracotta soldiers to protect him in the afterlife. Pic/AFP
The emperor had also built an underground mausoleum filled with nearly 8,000 terracotta soldiers to protect him in the afterlife. Pic/AFP

By studying the 36,000 wooden slips -- found in 2002 -- archaeologists have uncovered not only the imperial order to find an "elixir of life", but also the often embarrassed responses from local authorities who struggled to meet his demands.

According to Xinhua, a village called "Duxiang" reported to the emperor that it had failed to discover a miraculous potion, but that the search was continuing. Another place, "Langya," suggested that "an herb collected from an auspicious local mountain" might do the job.

Qin Shihuang's sereach for immortality was doomed to failure: he died in 210 BC after reigning for 11 years.

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