Secret of China’s pyramids is revealed as archaeologists work out why they face one way

Rob Waugh
The 2,000-year-old terracotta army at the Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum, in Xian, central China

The Chinese ‘terracotta army’ are world famous, clay warriors built to guard the first Chinese emperor of the Qin dynasty in death, inside a gigantic artificial hill described as a Chinese pyramid.

The emperors of the Western Han dynasty were also buried under similar huge ‘pyramids’ – and now archaeologists have unravelled one of the mysteries of the tombs.

There are over 40 ‘pyramids’, housing emperors, queens and other members of royal families, in the now rapidly changing landscape of Xian along the Wei River.

Mysteriously, some of the buildings are not aligned with true north, but are close to it – despite the fact that the Chinese had developed rudimentary compasses at the time.

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But archaeologists now believe that the pyramids are ‘pointing towards’ not true north, but the pole star, Polaris.

The researchers write, ‘It is out of the question that this may have been due to errors of the Chinese astronomers and architects.

‘One could think of the use of the compass, which was invented in China in a somewhat rudimentary form at that time, but there is no correspondence with the paleomagnetic data. T

‘The explanation proposed in the article is thus astronomical: the emperors who built the pyramids of the “family 2” did not want to point to the north celestial pole, which at the time did not correspond to any star, but to the star to which the pole would be approached in the future: Polaris.’

Due to the precession of Earth’s Axis, the pole was fairly far from Polaris at the time in the Han emperors – and this explains the odd angle of the pyramids.

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