Archaeologists amend written history of China's first emperor

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Washington, March 3 (ANI): A team of researchers has tried to correct the inaccuracies in the account of the exploits of China's first emperor, Qin Shihuangdi, and present a more holistic and realistic view of the ruler.

The researchers include Gary Feinman and Linda Nicholas, two Field Museum scientists, and Fang Hui of the School of History and Culture at Shandong University, their Chinese collaborator.

They have integrated textual information with archaeological research in order to further understand the impact of Shihauangdi's reign.

They compared ancient written records to archaeological evidence and the result of their work is a more holistic view of China's first emperor and his influence on the eastern province of Shandong.

Shihuangdi first unified China in 221 BC, but scholars have few details of his distant conquests or how they changed the path of local histories.

Records show that in 219 BC the emperor visited Langya Mountain on the southeastern Shandong coast.

Written accounts from that time say the area "delighted" him and he stayed for three months.

Afterwards, he ordered 30,000 households (about 150,000 people) to colonize the area with the promise that new immigrants would be free from tax and labor obligations for 12 years.

He began construction of a network of roads in this region far distant from his capital in order to facilitate the movement of officials, troops, and commerce.

Proximity to resources such as salt and iron made the Langya Mountain area attractive for economic activities.

"His order to colonize the area was not just a whim resulting from his 'delight.' He probably wanted to move people loyal to him into a somewhat hostile region on the edge of the empire. He had a unification strategy in mind - he was consolidating his empire and laying a foundation for today's modern Chinese nation," explained Feinman.

Little had been written about the coastal area of Shandong, China, prior to Shihuangdi's order to move people there, and it was thought by some historians to have been sparsely populated before the arrival of the colonists.

However, the Field Museum scientists and their Chinese colleagues found pottery shards, stone tools and other traces of past settlements that showed the area's first significant occupation happened between 2600-2400 BC (the Longshan period).

"Shihuangdi didn't just move people in to fill up the area. We now know there were already people living there - pottery shards don't lie. The area had its own independent history and development. But historians write about kings and emperors, they seldom write about common people," said Feinman.

Qin Shihuangdi's reign was indeed noteworthy, as he is responsible for initiating construction of the Great Wall. (ANI)

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