ok this is off topic, but the terracotta army in Xian is only one of 500 burial mounds - it will still take another 80 years to fully excavate this one tomb.
The largest mound is a pyramid that took 700,000 labourers 38 years to build, and one of the few that were never looted, said to contain a body that lies on a gold bed, wrapped in silver, in a dragon-shaped copper coffin. The coffin in turn sits in a bejewelled model of the known world with rivers and seas of mercury beneath a ceiling dripping with gemstones. For years passed off as local legend, huge mercury deposits were found in the earth a few decades ago, and proves a big problem for future archaelogists. Recorded as being 450 ft tall on completion, it is only 200ft now. 20 other pyramids dot the landscape:
The authorities have long been very secretive about the pyramids of China, including planting trees on them to disguise them from the air, and as hill landscape on the ground. Until recently they are now blatantly obvious due to the growing tourist trails around the Terracotta Army.
this largest 'pyramid' to Empress Wu is in fact a mountain 3000ft tall that was shaped into a pyramidal shape by massing millions of tonnes of earth onto the sides when first constructed.
there is also the fabled 1000ft high white pyramid hidden by the Chinese authorities from one authority to the next for centuries, said to recline in a series of valleys with similar sized monuments. Until recently, Chinese officials have rebuffed all questions about any pyramids and all requests to view them.
In 1912 Fred Meyer Schroder, an American trader stumbled across them in his travels - he observed several smaller pyramids in the distance. He wrote in his travel diary that his first sight of the giant pyramid, along with its smaller cousins, rendered him almost speechless. "It was even more uncanny than if we had found it in the wilderness," he wrote. "But those [pyramids) were to some extent exposed to the eyes of the world—but still totally unknown in the western world."
In 1945 an American pilot also viewed it while ferrying supplies to Burma.
"I flew around a mountain and then we came to a valley. Directly below us was a gigantic white pyramid. It looked as if it were from a fairy tale. The pyramid was draped in shimmering white. It could have been metal, or some other form of stone. It was white on all sides. What was most curious about it was its capstone: a large piece of precious gem-like material. I was deeply moved by the colossal size of the thing." Theis report and photos were buried in US secret service files for 45 years. In 1947 another pilot, Maurice Sheehan took shots of a huge pyramid through the misty landscape below, but this time his report was published in the US papers inc. the NY times.
The authorities still claim the white pyramid does not exist, recent private investigations also lead merely to the Xian burial mounds. Perhaps those stories are rooted in legend, perhaps the photos are of the 200ft burial mounds nearer Xian.
tho' if anyone gets a google image, let me know.