Mysteries of the Terracotta Warriors (2024) Movie Script

[tranquil music playing]
[narrator] 2,200 years ago,
the first emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi,
conquered all six Chinese kingdoms
for the first time in history
to create China.
To protect his empire,
he built the first Great Wall
and gave orders for the most spectacular
tomb the world has ever seen
to be constructed for his afterlife.
But after his death, the Qin dynasty
would collapse in chaos and civil war,
and the site of his epic tomb
disappeared from history.
[music turns tense]
[Yuan Zhongyi, in Mandarin]
I remember it was hot season at that time.
Some farmers found something unknown
while digging a well.
So they asked me to go to Xi'an
to take a look.
How are things progressing?
Don't miss anything.
When I first saw it, I felt so excited.
And it was just the tip of the iceberg.
[dramatic music playing]
[reporter 1, in English]
A vast pottery army,
slowly being unearthed from the tomb
where it's lain for more than 2,000 years.
[reporter 2] It is amazing,
the tomb that is 19 square miles,
and inside, there's thousands of pieces
of these terracotta warriors.
[reporter 3] The figures, each different,
and numbering around 8,000,
uncovered on the burial site
of the country's first emperor.
[Yuan, in Mandarin] They called it
the Eighth Wonder of the World.
[music fades]
[poignant music playing]
[man, in English] I remember, when I went
to the excavation site as a kid,
looking face to face
at the 8,000 warriors.
All with distinct features.
That itself is already awe-inspiring.
Eight thousand warriors buried
next to the man who created China.
That has to be the most important
archaeological discovery of all time.
But the truly amazing thing
is that the 8,000 warriors
is guarding something much more important.
The first emperor's mausoleum.
[stirring music playing]
This is a personal burial complex.
Sixty square kilometers, which is
the equivalent to the size of Manhattan.
It is astonishing to think
that this is all built for one man.
[narrator] After the first
emperor of Qin died,
he was buried in a tomb beneath
the huge mound at the heart of the site.
Since the surprise discovery
of the warriors 50 years ago,
archaeologists have unearthed
countless discoveries.
But the enormity of the site
means that they're not even close
to uncovering it all.
[Yuan, in Mandarin]
The emperor's mausoleum
was a replica of the Qin capital city...
with two huge walls around the mound
and buildings covering
tens of millions of square meters.
There are so many things
buried underground.
Everything we find is so brilliant,
and so vivid.
[Hui, in English] The discovery is unique.
We have terracotta servants
who could serve him.
We have terracotta acrobats
that could entertain him.
Terracotta chariots, horses.
What it all adds up to
is a world of terracotta
built for the emperor
for him to rule over for eternity.
But how could a dynasty capable
of creating something so extraordinary
fall so quickly?
[tense music playing]
[narrator] For archaeologists,
the first clue is the condition
in which the treasures were found.
[music intensifies]
[music softens]
[music fades]
[intriguing music playing]
[Janice] I think people feel like,
when we excavated, all these
terracotta warriors were standing there.
But it was not the case.
All these terracotta warriors
were broken into pieces.
No one survived.
[narrator] Janice is part
of a new army of archaeologists,
forensic scientists,
and restorers
at what has become one of the largest
archaeological sites in the world.
They are united in trying to discover
exactly what happened to the warriors.
[music fades]
[man, in Mandarin] The hand's exposed.
The head should be here.
But be careful when you work on this part.
The surface has a lot of folds
so we may be able to preserve some color.
[Janice, in English]
That's the fascinating part,
because you can tell
they really have different personalities.
[Zhu, in Mandarin] This is good.
[Janice, in English] So every face,
you meet a new person
from the Qin dynasty.
[woman, in Mandarin] He's smiling.
[narrator, in English]
In the restoration unit,
the emperor's army
is being pieced together
one life-sized warrior at a time.
[camera beeps]
[man, in Mandarin]
Seven, eight, nine, ten, 11.
[camera clicks]
[counting in Mandarin]
[Lan, in Mandarin] We have 36 big pieces.
And if we include bits of armor
and the nails for it,
that's nearly 400 pieces for one warrior.
That's a lot of pieces.
[contemplative music playing]
[Lan, in Mandarin]
I often think I'm a relic doctor,
accompanying them and treating them
until they come back to life.
Generally speaking,
this warrior is relatively complete.
Only his footboard is missing.
When it comes out,
we can start to restore him.
The ultimate goal is to stand him up
and get him back to his army.
[narrator, in English]
A single statue can take up to three years
to put back together.
[Hui] We know the warriors were intact
when they were buried.
But sometime between then and now,
every single one of them was smashed.
That's one of the biggest mysteries that
points us to why the Qin dynasty fell.
So, what happened?
[dynamic music playing]
[narrator] In the pits
where the warriors were buried,
the archaeologists are trying to find out
by forensically examining
every piece of evidence.
[Hui] There are a lot of theories.
Tomb robbers, vandalism, natural collapse.
But no one knows for certain.
What we know for sure
is something big happened.
[Zhu, in Mandarin]
When you go deep into the work,
sometimes you forget everything.
Our eyes are searching,
trying to distinguish the differences
with others we've seen before.
[woman, in Mandarin]
The soil looks wet. It's colored.
[Zhu] That's red fired earth.
- [woman] Fired earth?
- [Zhu] Yes.
[Zhu] And wood charcoal.
[woman] Hm.
[Zhu] It's been burnt.
Only when the fires were very strong
and burned for a very long time
would the soil turn red.
The broken pieces
were the result of a collapse.
But this was man-made destruction.
[contemplative music playing]
[Yuan, in Mandarin] The terracotta
warriors were burned in a fire.
Who set the fire?
That is the question.
[Hui, in English] This is more
than just an ancient wonder of the world.
It is also, in a sense,
a giant crime scene.
[brush rustles softly]
[gentle music playing]
[narrator] Until the discovery of the tomb
and the warriors,
almost everything known
about the Qin dynasty
was taken from one historical record.
A revered 2,000-year-old text
known as the Shiji.
[man] Shiji is the first
major history of China.
The main author is Sima Qian.
It contains a detailed account
of the first emperor's life and his death.
[music turns suspenseful]
- [horses whinnying]
- [warriors yelling]
[Sima Qian] In the 26th year of his rule,
the first emperor
unified all under heaven.
[narrator] The Shiji tells the story
of the first emperor, a warrior of Qin.
[warriors yelling]
[dynamic music playing]
[narrator] The emperor
conquered six kingdoms
and unified China for the first time
in history under his total control.
He gave China its name.
But the record says
that the mighty dynasty,
destined for 10,000 generations,
lasted for only 15 years
before it collapsed.
One of the things that is special
about the Shiji is the way it is written.
It combines history and epic drama.
Some of it, we are a little bit
more skeptical if it happened or not.
We have no other finding
that could back some of the claims up.
But the big question
is how much of that is true?
So that's why the excavation
is so exciting.
For the first time in 2,000 years,
we have a chance to figure out
whether what Sima Qian wrote is correct.
[intriguing music playing]
[in Mandarin] Let's measure
the length and the width.
[narrator, in English]
On the east side of the site,
archaeologists have uncovered
foundations of a monumental gate
that they believe was once
the main entrance to the mausoleum.
- [Fu, in Mandarin] Length?
- 100.
The width is 95.
- [Fu] Ninety-five?
- [woman] Yes.
[Fu] And the hole?
[woman] 10.6.
[Fu] This is the widest gate
ever found in China.
After he proclaimed himself emperor,
the site was constantly extended.
It was a national project.
They were gathering the whole empire
to focus on one thing.
[steady percussive music playing]
[narrator, in English]
Work on the first emperor's tomb
began when he was just 13 years old.
- [music continues]
- [indistinct chatter]
[in Mandarin] Be careful.
Lift it up.
[narrator, in English]
By the time he had conquered all of China,
he commanded the vast resources required
to build the greatest
tomb complex on Earth.
[music turns melodic]
[narrator] In the storage vaults,
Janice is examining evidence
of the brutality meted out
on those forced to build the tomb.
[Janice] From the material remains,
we can tell how hard that time was
for people who worked here
to construct this mausoleum complex.
You can see this is relatively big.
Not like on the legs.
So that's really on someone's neck.
- [guard shouting]
- [chains rattling]
[Sima Qian]
When the first emperor unified the empire,
more than 700,000 convicts were sent
to build his mausoleum at Mount Li.
[Hui] The first emperor
mobilized people by force.
[guard 1, in Mandarin] Keep up. Keep up.
[Hui, in English] He convicted
as many people as possible.
- [guard 1, in Mandarin] Move quickly!
- [guard 2] Keep up. Keep up.
[Hui, in English]
And made them part of the labor force
that would work for his projects.
The Qin legal code is very detailed,
and also very harsh.
Whenever you are associated with
a criminal, you'll also get convicted.
If you were unlucky enough
to have that happen to you,
what awaits you is extremely brutal.
[intriguing music playing]
We find many of these kind of iron
shackles within the mausoleum complex.
In Shiji, Sima Qian mentions
a large quantity of convicts coming here,
and also some other status people
or craftspeople.
But particularly for these, we can see
that many convicts were involved,
and many people suffered.
[pensive music playing]
[guard 1, in Mandarin]
What are you looking at? Move!
[guard 2 shouts]
Have you tied it well?
[narrator, in English]
Workshops in nearby towns
were formed into a massive
terracotta production line
involving craftsmen
drawn from across the empire.
[steady percussive music playing]
[in Mandarin] The eyebrow
can be slightly higher.
The eye is the key part.
[Hui, in English] This is the first time
craftsmen from all seven Chinese states
came together to work
on one single project.
And the result of that
was the creation of something
that no one had ever seen before.
[in Mandarin] Pay attention
to the area above the mouth.
[Hui, in English] For a civilization
to produce something in such great detail
on such scale over 2,200 years ago,
it shows us
a remarkable level of sophistication.
[gentle music playing]
[music fades to silence]
[Lan, in Mandarin]
I've worked in restoration for 25 years.
And it's rare to see one warrior
still completely colored.
This is the head of a warrior
which we've recently excavated.
It belongs to a senior army officer.
When the warriors were first made,
they were all colored.
But because they've been buried
for over 2,000 years,
and because of the movement of the soil,
the colors on their surface
usually fall off when they're excavated.
But this piece
was buried in the very bottom,
so it was better preserved.
[poignant music playing]
[Lan] When I look into their eyes
and their facial expressions,
it's like they're alive.
They're an incarnation of the Qin people,
as well as an epitome of the Qin army.
[Lo, in English]
I think these realistic faces
were based on real people
from all over China at the time.
And the idea probably came
from the emperor himself.
Because it's a very, very powerful
graphic representation
of that feat he had achieved.
A fantastic symbol of the unification
of different ethnic people.
Of this first unified empire.
If we did not have the first emperor,
it is possible that China would have
continued to be divided
among different states,
much like the divided Europe today.
[poignant music playing]
[Lo] So if we look at the warriors,
I think it's really, really important
in the context of world history,
of global history, because you can see how
China has become different, if not unique.
[intriguing music playing]
[narrator] The emperor spared no expense
and stopped at nothing
in preparing for his afterlife.
But he had failed to prepare
for his succession on Earth,
refusing to announce
an heir to his kingdom.
The danger of having too much power
in the hands of one man
was about to turn all he built,
the whole Qin world, upside down.
[intriguing music continues]
[music fades]
[Guo] The Shiji tells us
the first emperor fell ill on tour
through the eastern parts of the empire.
[Sima Qian] In the seventh month,
the first emperor reached Shaqiu.
None would dare to mention
the matter of death.
[narrator] The story recorded in the Shiji
says that traveling with the emperor
on his fateful last tour
were three characters
who would play a key role
in the future of the Qin dynasty.
[Hui] Li Si was the emperor's
right-hand man. He was the chief minister.
Nothing in the empire happened
that did not go through him.
[tense music playing]
[in Mandarin] Quick.
[Hui, in English] Zhao Gao,
a man from a disgraced family,
had worked his way up
to become the emperor's closest servant.
[in Mandarin] You!
Go find Si Li!
Go find Hu Hai!
[narrator, in English] Crucially, Zhao Gao
was the guardian of the imperial seal,
which the emperor required
to issue all of his commands.
And finally, there was the youngest
of the emperor's sons, Prince Hu Hai.
[Hui] Given that he was the youngest,
Hu Hai was probably not very high up
in the line of succession.
But he was the only son
that accompanied the emperor on the tour.
[music turns suspenseful]
[in Mandarin] Teacher.
[music fades]
[mournful music playing]
The emperor is dead.
[Hu Hai gasps]
All he has left
is this letter for his eldest son,
designating him as heir.
If this letter is delivered,
he will be enthroned as emperor.
And you will be left with nothing.
So, what should be done with it?
That should be obvious!
If our father has left orders, then what
can we, as loyal subjects, presume to do?
Bid the chief minister
to destroy this letter
and support your own worthy claim.
I will not hear this.
At the moment, the decision
of who shall take control of the empire
lies with you, me,
and the chief minister alone.
How can I consult the chief minister
on such a matter?
[Zhao Gao sighs softly]
Let me consult with him on your behalf.
[emotional music playing]
[narrator] After convincing the prince,
Zhao Gao successfully persuaded
the chief minister to join the conspiracy.
[suspenseful music playing]
Together, they destroyed
the letter from the emperor
which named Hu Hai's eldest brother
as the emperor's successor,
and replaced it with a fake letter
that told the rightful heir
he had displeased his father
and his immediate suicide
was the only way to make amends.
[in Mandarin] The deed is done.
We can only resign ourselves to fate.
Come now.
[narrator, in English]
In order for their plot to work,
the conspirators had to keep
the emperor's death a secret
while they waited
for their letter to take effect.
[hooves clopping]
[in Mandarin] Stop.
Quick! Hurry up!
[narrator, in English] So the dead body
of the most powerful man on the planet
was bundled into his traveling carriage.
His corpse would be driven around
in the sweltering Chinese summer heat
until the rightful heir
was fooled by the plotters.
[music becomes tense]
[in Mandarin] Go, go!
[narrator, in English] As time passed,
the body of the dead emperor
became a liability.
The plotters reached
for desperate measures.
[Sima Qian] The emperor's carriage
began to stink in the hot weather.
To disguise the smell, the conspirators
surrounded it with carts of fish.
[narrator] Against the odds,
the letter worked.
The rightful heir took his own life,
and the plotters were free
to return to the capital
to announce the emperor's death,
taking with them another forged letter
naming Hu Hai as heir.
[Sima Qian] Hu Hai was installed
as the second emperor.
But the conspirators feared
the empire would not easily submit.
[somber music playing]
[Hui] We know from records
that when the emperor's death
was finally announced
that they would all have been together
at the same event.
[Sima Qian] In the ninth month,
the first emperor was buried at Mount Li.
Everyone within the Four Seas
offered tribute.
[narrator] The emperor's funeral
should have been the crowning moment
for the vast tomb complex
he'd spent his adult life building.
But the conspiracy
cast the event in a different light.
Front and center
was the second emperor, Hu Hai,
asserting his right to rule...
backed up by the two conspirators
who had put him there.
[music intensifies]
[narrator] Hu Hai's eldest brothers
must have known
that the succession had been fixed.
His sudden promotion over them
was not just a personal slight.
Now they were potential threats
to the throne.
Threats that could not be allowed to live.
[music peaks, then fades]
[narrator] Evidence of the horror
that unfolded after the funeral
has been uncovered at the site.
[poignant music playing]
[Zhu, in Mandarin] In the northeast corner
of the inner city of the mausoleum,
there are around 100 small tombs.
We excavated ten of them.
One of the tombs was wrecked.
But in the other nine,
we found human bones.
The bones were so mixed up
that we couldn't tell
one body from another.
They seemed to have been dismembered.
We also found pearls in the soil.
[poignant music continues]
[Zhu, in Mandarin]
It was a very unexpected find.
Some pearls had traces of being gilded.
It was a high-level luxury accessory,
beyond the reach of common people.
Based on this discovery,
we think they may be
the first emperor's concubines.
- [rumbling]
- [hooves clopping]
[narrator, in English] The first
to feel the wrath of the new regime
were the unfortunate young women
of the imperial harem.
[Guo] The reason why they were targeted
is not so clear from historical records.
But in the context of the conspiracy,
we can find
a possible logical explanation for it.
[uneasy music playing]
[horse whinnying]
[Guo] Some of the concubines
may well have been on tour
with the first emperor when he died...
[uneasy music continues]
[Guo] ...and could have witnessed
the strange events
that surrounded the emperor's death.
[music intensifies]
[Guo] Perhaps Hu Hai thought
that these concubines knew too much.
[music softens]
[music fades to silence]
[in Mandarin]
There are many limb bones here.
These women are generally slender.
Also, they were not very tall.
[poignant music playing]
[Chen, in Mandarin] They selected women
with heights between 150 cm and 160 cm.
Their weight was also controlled
within a range.
[Zhu, in Mandarin] The Shiji
says these women were ordered to die.
But there is no mention of how they died.
[hooves clopping]
[Sima Qian]
During the burial of the first emperor,
the second emperor gave an order.
Of the women
in the harem of the former ruler,
it would be unfitting that those
who had no sons be sent elsewhere.
All were accordingly ordered
to accompany the dead emperor,
which resulted in the death of many women.
[somber music playing]
[Zhu, in Mandarin] Do you think
this hole is from a chopping injury?
Or something else?
[Chen] It doesn't look like that.
It's not neat.
[in Mandarin] They may have been killed
and then dismembered after.
Or they may actually
have been hacked to death.
[Chen] If they used weapons
made of bronze or iron,
it would leave a clean cut.
[somber music playing]
[Chen] This injury was definitely
caused after death.
It had nothing to do with how she died.
If they were dismembered after death,
it would have been at the joints,
where it's easier to cut through,
especially when someone
does it for a living.
- [Zhu] It appears they were dismembered.
- [Chen] That's right.
[Zhu] But their bodies were in one piece
when they died.
[somber music continues]
[Zhu] We still don't know
how the concubines died,
but these women
did not die of natural causes.
And however they were killed...
it was very cruel.
[somber music continues]
[music softens]
[narrator, in English] The brutality
meted out to the concubines
was just the beginning.
Chilling evidence
of the conspirators' next move
was discovered in a remote far corner
of the site by Yuan Zhongyi.
[Yuan, in Mandarin]
During our exploration,
we've found a lot of burial pits.
The people in them
seem to have been murdered
and mutilated
at young ages.
In Shangjiao village,
we found 17 small tombs
and excavated eight of them.
I think the youngest one
was only 18 years old,
and the oldest one was 30.
As for who killed them?
We don't know.
[mournful music playing]
[narrator, in English]
The bodies were identified
by a personal seal found in the grave.
By tradition, these were buried with
the remains of high-status individuals.
[Yuan, in Mandarin]
We think they were the graves
of the sons and daughters
of the first emperor.
[narrator, in English] After the funeral,
the conspirators turned their attention
to each of Hu Hai's potential rivals.
[rapid banging at doors]
[suspenseful music playing]
[in Mandarin] Prince Jianglu,
I am placing you
and your brothers under arrest.
On what charge?
Disloyalty to the throne?
This is an outrage!
I demand to see my brother.
His Majesty's orders to me
were very clear.
"No loose ends."
[music turns tense]
[narrator, in English]
The real terror had just begun.
[repeated banging]
[Sima Qian] The law was made severe,
and the punishments harsh.
- Corpses formed heaps in the marketplace.
- [banging continues]
[in Mandarin] I must see His Majesty.
[bell ringing]
[suspenseful music playing]
[bell ringing]
Your Highness.
What news?
All your father's ministers
have been purged.
They move fast.
The worst is to come.
Yesterday, at the market in Xianyang,
12 of your brothers were executed.
And your sisters...
they were torn to pieces.
You must flee, Your Highness.
Take your family and leave.
Your Highness.
[ominous music playing]
[music quickens]
[narrator, in English]
The problem for Prince Gao
and for the whole royal family
was that there was nowhere to run.
[in Mandarin] I have committed no crime.
[narrator, in English] Those who
were spared the public execution
were given only one way out.
[intense music playing]
I have committed no crime!
- [metallic swooshing]
- [blood spattering]
[narrator, in English] By the end
of the first year of Hu Hai's reign,
the records say that most of his brothers
and sisters were dead.
[intriguing music playing]
[narrator] Now, one of the site's
most significant finds ever
might be the key to proving
that this is not just legend, but fact.
To the west of the site,
close to the emperor's tomb mound,
a huge excavation is underway.
A series of vast tombs
has been discovered.
Opening them has never
been attempted before.
It would usually be forbidden.
But the threat of rainwater damage
has led to an exceptional decision.
To excavate one of the tombs.
[man, in Mandarin]
The opportunity to excavate this tomb
is completely unprecedented.
So it's the only opportunity.
[intriguing music continues]
[Jiang, in Mandarin]
Every time I go down, I still feel amazed.
The tomb was so precisely built.
[intriguing music continues]
So deep, so large in scale!
Most ancient tombs have been robbed,
so we didn't have much hope
for the coffin chamber.
But it turned out it hadn't been robbed.
We were amazed!
The coffin is badly decayed,
but the tomb owner is still in there.
And lots of weapons were unearthed,
including armor, crossbows, and swords.
[intriguing music continues]
[Janice, in English]
What makes this tomb so exciting
is that this is a real warrior
of the Qin dynasty.
We already found
thousands of terracotta warriors,
but we didn't have the opportunity
to excavate a real Qin warrior.
[music intensifies]
[Janice] And this is quite close
to the first emperor's tomb mound.
So, who was he?
[Hui] Whoever this person was,
he was clearly very important
and very close to the emperor.
If we can figure out his identity,
it could be key for us to understand
what happened after the emperor's death.
[intense percussive music playing]
[narrator] Janice has been brought in
to examine the extraordinary artifacts
found with the coffin
to see if they can help reveal more
about the tomb owner's identity.
[Jiang, in Mandarin] This is a jade disc.
There is a circle outside, and a frame.
There is a thin pattern as well.
- Its outer ring.
- Yes. In the middle part.
It's a geometric pattern as a whole.
[Jiang] The jade piece
was an ornament on a scabbard.
[Janice, in English] The burial materials
in Tomb One is really fascinating.
You know, some of the objects,
we never seen before,
like a gold camel and dancing figure.
[Jiang, in Mandarin]
From this, we can judge
that the tomb owner
might have a royal status.
[in Mandarin]
It is rather finely decorated.
[in English]
These are quite exotic objects
that is the first time
found in the mausoleum complex.
The question is
whether we can tell the date.
[Jiang, in Mandarin]
Take it out and have a look.
[in Mandarin] This is from
the late Warring States period.
[Janice] They couldn't be cast
as late as the Han Dynasty.
It must have been cast earlier.
[in English] All these coins we discovered
we call Ban Liang.
These kind of coins, the size
of the coins, and also the character,
definitely Qin coins from the later Qin.
[narrator] The coins are clear evidence
that the tomb owner was amongst
the wealthiest of Qin society,
and they date the burial
to the end of the Qin dynasty.
[in Mandarin]
How many pieces have been unearthed?
- It's about 5,000 to 6,000.
- Five thousand to 6,000 pieces?
[in English] It's unusual
to find 6,000 coins in this tomb.
It's really a fortune.
[in Mandarin]
Let's take a look at this crossbow.
It's smaller than the ones
from the Terracotta Warriors Pit.
And it has a casing.
Crossbows with trigger casings
were very rare at that time.
[in English]
This type of the crossbow triggers,
that's late Qin dynasty.
And that gives quite narrow time window
of this tomb.
From probably after the emperor died
to before the fall of the Qin dynasty.
So that's three, four years.
So who could be buried
with the Qin first emperor
in this time period?
And why?
[poignant music playing]
[narrator] Narrowing the date
reduces the list
of candidates who could be in the tomb.
[Hui] If the mystery warrior was buried
between the death of the emperor
and the fall of the Qin,
then there is only a short list
of candidates it could be.
- [intriguing music playing]
- [birds singing]
[Jiang, in Mandarin]
After the first emperor died,
his sons all came to a bad end.
So I'm still more inclined
to believe that this tomb
belongs to a high-ranking nobleman
or army chief.
[narrator, in English] If archaeologists
find a personal seal inside the coffin,
they can prove beyond doubt
the tomb owner's identity.
But the condition of the coffin means
that this could take years.
[Jiang, in Mandarin] Originally, we wanted
to investigate the coffin in place.
Be careful of that wood.
But there's a big temperature difference
between winter and summer.
[narrator, in English]
With pieces of gold, jade,
and precious metals
exposed to the elements,
they need to act fast.
[Jiang, in Mandarin]
If we clean it on site,
the drastic change
in temperature and humidity
might have a big impact
on the excavated relics and remains.
So we want to pack it first
and take it indoors for the investigation.
[in Mandarin]
Look at the objects on the pillar there.
We need something to protect them.
[narrator, in English] The plan
involves packaging up the coffin
along with the tons of earth
that surround it
and lifting the whole thing into the lab
in one piece.
The extreme weight
makes extracting the coffin deeply risky.
Nothing like this
has ever been attempted before.
[in Mandarin]
The steel plates can be put in one by one.
We can operate from here
or from the other side.
Yes, both sides will work.
We need to lay tracks up the passage.
Then use a crane with
a 50 to 100-ton capacity to pull it up.
The problem is it's uneven and bumpy here,
so it'll be difficult to load.
This is a huge archaeological challenge.
I'm sure we will solve all these problems.
[intriguing music playing]
[tool scraping]
[narrator, in English]
Near to the tomb mound,
Fu Jian's investigation is closing in
on what happened
to the buildings that once stood here.
[in Mandarin] We think there was a tower.
I want to know how it was destroyed.
That's what I care about most.
[narrator, in English] If the damage
done to the warriors extends here,
it would mean
this was more than just a robbery.
It would point
to a very different explanation.
[man, in Mandarin]
We just found some broken tiles.
One of them has characters on it.
[Fu] That seems to be "Shui."
It's "Zuo Shui."
I think Zuo Shui
was a manufacturer in the Qin dynasty.
It could be part of the tower.
In Pit One and Pit Two of the Warriors,
there is clear evidence
of man-made damage.
But there is no direct evidence
to prove it was all done at the same time.
[narrator, in English]
The fires in the Warrior Pits
could have been caused by ancient robbers.
But if fires burned here at the same time
so close to the tomb,
it's evidence of a plan
of deliberate destruction.
[dramatic music playing]
[Hui] When the first emperor died,
the convicts were still there working,
building the huge mound over the tomb.
But almost exactly
a year after the first emperor's death,
a major uprising broke out
in the east part of the empire,
which was going to have a major effect
on the construction of the mausoleum.
[tense music playing]
[narrator] By the time anyone dared
to tell the emperor there was a problem,
the situation had spiraled out of control.
[in Mandarin] Rise.
[narrator, in English] A rebel army,
reportedly 300,000 strong,
was heading towards the capital.
[in Mandarin] Then call up forces
from the nearby districts and kill them.
Your Majesty, the bandits
are already close by and great in number.
There is no time to call up forces
from the nearby districts.
Are you saying
we are powerless to stop them?
[music intensifies]
[shouts] Have you lost your tongues?
Your Majesty, there are
many convict laborers at Mount Li.
Might I humbly suggest that they be
pressed into Your Majesty's service
and used for an attack.
Do so with all haste.
And do not disturb me in my pleasure
until it's done.
By order of His Imperial Majesty,
all men over the age of 15
must take up arms and fight.
[tense music continues]
Why should we fight?
What business is this war of ours?
- Silence!
- Hold on!
Any convicted man that fights
for His Majesty will be issued a pardon.
[narrator, in English]
Hu Hai's force of untrained convicts
was a far cry
from the feared, well-disciplined army
with which his father had conquered China.
[Janice, in Mandarin]
Let's check if there's an inscription.
[narrator, in English]
Janice is examining real weapons
found in the pits
alongside the terracotta warriors.
[Janice, in English] When we see
any objects from the mausoleum complex,
they have a big story behind it.
[in Mandarin]
You can see it right on this spot.
The inscription is clear.
[in English] Terracotta warriors
were equipped with bronze weapons.
The lances or halberds for the infantry.
The crossbows for the archers.
And we can tell from different weapons
and how they mix together,
the flexible battle tactic they use.
You have all these archers,
or crossbowmen,
in front of the military formation.
And they released arrows to the enemy
before they come very close.
And then the crossbowmen
moved to the back.
The infantry will have close combat
with the enemy.
So that's a special tactic
in the Qin dynasty.
- [dramatic music playing]
- [distant rumbling]
[horse whinnying]
- [in Mandarin] Prepare the attack.
- Prepare the attack!
- Put out the fires! Get in line!
- Put out the fires!
Move it!
Send the horses to scatter them.
We'll cut them down as they flee.
- [horses whinnying]
- [warriors shouting]
[narrator, in English] A convict army
armed with digging tools...
[General shouts in Mandarin]
...would have been lambs to the slaughter.
- [horses whinnying]
- [dramatic music continues]
[in Mandarin] Hold!
[narrator, in English]
But fighting for Qin gave them access
to some of the finest
weapons in the ancient world.
And commanders who knew only victory.
[warriors shouting]
[in Mandarin] Hold your positions!
Hold your positions!
Now! Attack!
[men shouting]
- [rumbling]
- [warriors shouting]
[shouts in Mandarin]
[weapons whistling, thudding]
[men shouting]
- [shouting]
- [rumbling]
[horses whinnying]
[narrator, in English] Qin weapons
and tactics made the difference.
[distant shouting]
- [horses whinnying]
- [men grunting]
[yelling, groaning]
[narrator] Against the odds,
the convict army prevailed.
[distant shouting]
[narrator] The rebels
were stopped in their tracks.
- [General grunts]
- [narrator] And their leaders hunted down.
But a tide of rebellion had begun.
And work on the tomb was abandoned.
[poignant music playing]
[Hui] After the convicts left,
there's no further mention
of the emperor's tomb complex
in this historical record.
No one knows
what happened to it after that.
[narrator] The giant mound
built to protect the emperor's tomb
appears to have done its job.
There is no evidence
anyone has ever broken inside.
But for the rest
of the emperor's mausoleum,
it was a different story.
[music fades]
Telltale signs of deliberate destruction
are being examined
in the restoration unit.
Another Qin masterpiece,
the larger-than-life statue of an acrobat,
is being pieced back together.
[indistinct chatter]
[narrator] The signs of violence
are clear.
[tense music playing]
[in Mandarin] This is very interesting.
It has marks
showing it has been cut and smashed.
When we excavated this pit, the whole site
was found to be severely damaged.
[narrator, in English]
A survey of the Acrobat's Pit
where the statue was buried
revealed a patch of red earth.
The fire that destroyed them
was so intense that it melted
a bronze cauldron at the bottom of the pit
into a flat plate.
[in Mandarin] During our work,
many pits were discovered
due to the important clue
of red, burnt soil,
including the Pit of Bronze Birds
and the Acrobat Pit.
[camera bleeps and clicks]
[Zhu] If we put these burnings together,
and consider it as a whole...
[camera clicks] can't have been done
by a few dozen people.
It would have taken hundreds, or even
thousands of people, to do this damage.
But who did it?
- [birds chirping]
- [intriguing music playing]
[narrator] At the Warrior's Tomb,
Jiang Wenxiao's plans
for the extraction of the coffin
have received the go-ahead.
[in Mandarin] Just over here.
[narrator, in English]
But given how risky the move will be,
the team want to take samples
from some of the exposed bones first.
[Chen, in Mandarin]
It's not easy to walk in this suit.
[Jiang] Be careful.
[narrator, in English] The samples
may also help establish the warrior's age.
[Chen, in Mandarin] It's right here, look.
Let's take this as a sample.
It's part of the skull.
The skull was not complete.
Only a small part was preserved.
We also found limb bones
in poor condition.
This is the top of the femur.
Here is the hip bone.
Over there is shin bone.
So the head is here.
The body is this side.
- [Jiang] The head is in the south.
- [Chen] That's right.
[Jiang] And the feet are pointing north.
[Chen] Look at the top of the femur.
The bone was quite thick.
So it's more likely to be a male.
Let's take a sample of this.
We took a section of the femur.
[poignant music playing]
We want to find out if the tomb owner
was a family member of the first emperor
or a high-ranking statesman
who had no blood relationship.
[Hui, in English] If the mystery warrior
was a high-ranking government official,
then we have to look at the possibility
of him being one of the conspirators.
[narrator] After two years of bloodshed,
Hu Hai's empire was crumbling.
And as it did,
the conspirators turned on each other.
The chief minister was the first to die.
Sentenced to death by the emperor
after being double-crossed by Zhao Gao.
[Sima Qian] The five punishments
were prepared for Li Si.
And he was condemned
to be cut in two at the waist.
[narrator] And once the chief minister
was out of the way,
Zhao Gao set his sights
on the emperor himself.
- [somber music playing]
- [Hu Hai grunting]
[Hu Hai grunting and panting]
[in Mandarin] Your Majesty,
I'm here to inform you
that your time as emperor is at an end.
[breathes heavily]
If I am no longer to be emperor,
tell Zhao Gao
all I ask is to be king of one county,
and I won't stand in his way.
[Yan Yue] Zhao Gao will shortly
install a new emperor.
We have no use for kings.
A marquis, then!
The hour for daydreams is long past.
[Hu Hai whimpers]
I ask for nothing then,
but to live quietly as a commoner.
I have my orders.
And Your Majesty knows very well
there can be no loose ends.
[music peaks, fades]
[Hu Hai gulping]
[narrator, in English]
If the record is correct, we can be sure
that Emperor Hu Hai
is not the occupant of the mystery tomb.
[Hu Hai choking]
[narrator] He was buried without ceremony
in a commoner's grave.
All Zhao Gao's plotting, though,
was about to come back to bite him.
He chose Hu Hai's replacement
to be easy to control.
But the new emperor had his own ideas.
[in Mandarin] I put you on the throne.
How dare you keep me waiting?
Who are you to disobey my orders?
Zhao Gao!
[narrator] So the first thing he did...
Who are you?
- [metallic swoosh]
- [Zhao Gao grunts]
- [rasping]
- [metallic rattling]
[narrator] ...was murder Zhao Gao.
- [Zhao Gao chokes, stops]
- [loud thud]
[narrator] There is no record
of where he was buried.
[mechanical whirring]
[Chen, in Mandarin]
Our preliminary evaluation
suggests that it should be a male.
But we would like to do a DNA test
to find out more about him.
We have to take
very small parts of the bones...
and send them away to be tested.
[intriguing music playing]
[Chen, in Mandarin] We also found a tooth.
It was the owner's premolar.
You can see the development of the tooth,
and it has no enamel defects.
It indicates that, during their life,
they had sufficient nutrition.
[assistant, in Mandarin]
There is no dentin exposure,
so it should be a young person.
[Chen] Hm.
The age of this person
must be between 18 and 22.
So he was a young man.
[narrator, in English]
The evidence that the warrior died young
rules out the conspirators.
They were too old.
Revealing the age makes it more likely
that he may have been a prince.
And the detail in the Shiji
concerning one prince in particular
casts new light on everything
found at the warrior's tomb.
[Hui] In the early days of the conspiracy
when Hu Hai was murdering
his brothers and sisters,
one of them, Prince Gao,
made a bold decision.
[rapid banging]
[suspenseful music playing]
[banging continues]
[banging continues]
[mechanical clicking]
[in Mandarin] You must flee,
Your Highness.
Take your family and leave.
[sighs quietly]
[Sima Qian, in English]
Prince Gao wished to flee.
But fearing his family
would be arrested and exterminated,
instead, he delivered a letter
for the second emperor.
[suspenseful music playing]
[in Mandarin] I should have
followed the former emperor in death.
But I failed to do so.
As a son, I have been disloyal.
As a subject, I have been disloyal.
And one who acts disloyally
wins no fame in this world.
I ask leave
to follow the former emperor in death.
My only request is to be buried
in the mausoleum at the foot of Mount Li.
I can but hope that the emperor
will take pity and grant my request.
I will pass on your request to the emperor
and bid him give this matter his full
attention at his earliest convenience.
[narrator, in English]
Prince Gao offered to kill himself
to save his family from suffering
the same fate as his brothers and sisters.
[Guo] I think what Prince Gao did
was a heroic and brave act.
And that is probably why the story
attracted special attention from Sima Qian
and made its way into the Shiji.
[uneasy music playing]
[Guo] Sima Qian also tells us
that Hu Hai was delighted
reading the letter from Prince Gao.
And not only did he agree
to Prince Gao's request,
but he also awarded him
with 100,000 bronze coins for his burial.
If Shiji is correct,
then we can assume
that Prince Gao is buried
somewhere around the mausoleum site.
But so far,
his tomb has not been identified.
[Hui] If we could prove
that the mystery warrior was Prince Gao,
that would be a mind-blowing discovery.
[Jiang, in Mandarin]
Given the tomb owner was young,
it's certainly possible
that it might be Prince Gao.
But we can't say that for sure
based on this.
So we need to get it safely to the lab
to complete our work.
[purposeful music playing]
[chains rattling]
[wheel squeaking]
[workman 1, in Mandarin]
It's safe. Go. Go, it's safe. Go.
[speaking in Mandarin]
We must get it done within an hour.
[workman 1] Pull.
[indistinct chatter]
[animated chatter]
[workman 1] Stop pulling. Stop!
The wheels are stuck now.
The steel track is bent,
but it's going to be okay.
[indistinct chatter]
[animated chatter]
[workman 1] Go on. Go on. Go on.
[tense music playing]
[animated chatter]
- [workman 2] Is it raining outside?
- [workman 3] It's raining!
[workman 2] Get the plastic to cover it!
- [speaking Mandarin]
- [rain pattering]
[workman 2] Stop pulling. Stop!
[tense music continues]
- [fireworks whistling]
- [rapid blasts]
- [fireworks whistling]
- [rapid blasts]
- [indistinct chatter]
- [motor running]
[in Mandarin] How do I feel?
I feel very happy indeed.
We have completed such a big project.
We hope that we can find a seal
or similar artifacts
that can prove the identity
of the tomb owner conclusively.
We have a lot of faith in it.
It's done.
[Hui, in English] All these stories
that are circulating for over 2,000 years,
now that we have such findings...
[hooves clopping]
[Hui] will prove
that all these figures were true.
Like Zhao Gao, like Hu Hai,
were real people, not characters
in a legend, or just a story.
All of these figures
will have existed in history.
[narrator] Now, 50 years on
from the discovery
of the first terracotta warrior,
conclusive evidence
of systematic destruction
has been found all over the site.
[indistinct chatter]
[Fu in Mandarin] See the red soil?
I think this building was destroyed
by a fire soon after it was built.
Across the whole Qin mausoleum,
there are traces of burning.
We are not sure when the traces were left.
But what we can confirm is that the damage
in the warrior pits happened early,
before the wood there had decayed.
[Zhu in Mandarin] That's wood charcoal.
[Fu] When we excavated the east gate,
the situation was the same.
- [woman] It's been burned.
- [Fu] Yes, exactly.
And on these buildings,
we found the same traces of burning too.
So all this destruction
seems to have happened
at around the same time
in the late Qin dynasty.
[suspenseful music playing]
[narrator, in English]
When the fall of Qin came,
it came violently
at the hands of a rebel general
who led his army to the capital
and beheaded Hu Hai's successor.
[dramatic music playing]
[Sima Qian]
The rebel armies butchered the capital,
and the fires burned for three months.
[narrator] There is no written proof
that the rebel army
destroyed the first emperor's mausoleum.
But being close to the capital,
it would have been a prime target.
[Zhu, in Mandarin]
In my opinion, the theft,
destruction, and burning down
of the mausoleum
should be attributed to this rebel army.
[fire crackles]
[Zhu] They had the numbers and the power,
and they had opportunity and time.
It's likely some of the soldiers
had been convicts
forced to work on the construction.
So they would have remembered
where things were buried.
[man, in Mandarin] Hey, they're down here!
[Zhu] It was revenge.
- [tense music playing]
- [fire crackling]
[music intensifies]
[flames whooshing]
[tense music continues]
- [music fades]
- [crickets chirping]
[Sima Qian, in English]
When all under heaven had been settled,
the house of Qin fell because they ruled
without humanity or righteousness.
[poignant music playing]
[Guo] I think
the Qins' cruel way of mobilizing
and punishing the population
led to the destruction of the mausoleum.
But the high level of artistic creativity
did not grow from this cruelty.
It grew out of the fusion
of different cultural elements
from various parts
of what we call China today.
[poignant music continues]
[Guo] The first emperor's vision
of a unified China survived.
It survived the fall of the Qin dynasty.
And it is still very much alive today.
[Hui] I think, in the end,
the warriors were destroyed
due to the harsh conditions
that they were created in.
But they also show us what human beings
were capable of doing 2,200 years ago.
To me, even after all this time,
the warriors are a reminder
of the magnificence of the human spirit.
And they still have the power
to take our breath away.
[emotional music playing]
[Lan in Mandarin] This is his footboard.
[Yuan, in Mandarin] My whole life
has been dedicated to archaeology.
It's been 48 or 49 years now.
Making the warriors known to the world
was a task that fell on our shoulders.
It was an honor for us.
[emotional music continues]
[Yuan] The warriors
are my dearest friends.
When they are loved
by people all over the world,
it makes me very happy.
It was difficult at times,
but in the greatest hardship,
we find the greatest joy.
Just as flowers watered by perspiration
are the most beautiful...
the terracotta warriors
gave us the greatest happiness.
[emotional music continues]
[music softens]
[music fades]
[dramatic music playing]