If you have ever visited the Terracotta Warriors or seen its pictures, you will surely find that the warriors and horses are separated from each other by piles of loess. Just like the following picture shows.
Now that the Terracotta Warriors are on public display, why not remove the mounds? There’s a reason for that. In the Shang dynasty(1600BC – 1046BC), nobles were often buried with merciless human sacrifices. Later, when the ancient people were civilized, they knew that such inhumanity was also costly. Therefore, the system of human sacrifice was abolished in the end of the Zhou dynasty, and ceramic figures were used instead of real people. The higher the status, the more the figures. The first emperor, Yingzheng, was naturally very conceited about his position in history, so the scale of his tomb was also rare in ancient times. The total area of Emperor Qin’s tomb is estimated analogous to 78 the Forbidden City. Such a huge project, to finish successfully, is an enormous challenge for the craftsman.
The thing that modern people fear most when digging tunnel is a landslide, so does the ancients. After the figures of warriors and horses were made, they were arranged according to the original plan and placed in the tomb, leaving earth walls as the foundation.
As a result, when the Terracotta Warriors were built, or excavated in the first place, they were not like what we see today. Although they were buried underground, they had shelter, not only a ceiling, but also the pillars supporting the ceiling and the earth walls mentioned. Besides the function of load-bearing, these rammed earth walls also distinguished soldiers in the ancient hierarchy – the difference between different types of troops, between soldiers and officers, that all separated by these earth walls, representing that Emperor Qin could command such an invincible army with strict discipline underground.
At present, the modern construction technology is enough to guarantee that the Terracotta warriors and horses will not collapse due to the lack of these earth walls. However, no expert has ever thought of removing or moving the walls, which is considered from the perspective of protecting cultural relics.