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King's hill mausoleum points to lavish dreams

By  Liu Xiangrui and Shi Baoyin  (China Daily)

09:22, June 26, 2012

(China Daily)

While most ancient imperial mausoleum sites draw tourists with their grand scale or extravagant treasures, the royal tombs of King Liangxiao and his wife in Mangdang Mountain of Yongcheng, Henan province, offer an added attraction.

Instead of piling up huge mounds over the burial sites, tens of thousands of workers chiseled out these tombs from the rocky hills, in effect making the hills the exterior of the mausoleum.

The mausoleums of King Liangxiao and his queen, who lived in the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 24), also amaze visitors with complex inner layouts.

One sunny day, we started our underground adventure by first visiting the queen's final resting place. Traces of hew were still visible on the ground and sidewalls at the entrance, along stacks of square stones used to seal the tomb entrance.

The queen's tomb, which was discovered in 1990, is considered to be the largest stone cave tomb found in China. It is 210 meters long and covers an area of 1,600 square meters with a volume of 6,500 cubic meters in space, all symmetrically laid out.

The site is made up of two halls connected by an axial path going from east to west, and has three side corridors and 34 lateral chambers - all these were built before the advent of gunpowder.

Visitors can easily get lost in the corridors without guides.

To prevent the mausoleum from raiders, the whole underground site was sealed and blocked with nearly 3,000 enormous stones. Each stone was also inscribed with an order number and the name of its manufacturer.

In line with the Chinese idea of "treating the dead as the living", there is also a whole set of features, such as a meeting room, bedroom, bathroom, closet, barn, weapons storehouse and toilet.

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