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XJTU ancient mural tomb appears in renowned documentary

March 30, 2024
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Sam Willis investigates the murals in the ancient tomb.

The Xi'an Jiaotong University (XJTU) Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 24) mural tomb is featured in the second episode, titled "Secrets of the First Emperor's Tomb", of the second season of the documentary series "Ancient China from Above".

This tomb was discovered by XJTU in 1987 during the construction of an elementary school and contains a large-scale colored mural known as the "Twenty-Eight Mansions Celestial Map," which is the first and most complete celestial map mural discovered in China to date.

The documentary series, jointly produced by China and the UK, began airing online on March 22 and March 29. Archaeologist Sam Willis from the UK hosts the series, using "Records of the Grand Historian" as a guide, visiting locations including the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor, Xi'an city and Xunyang county in Shaanxi province, and Liye town in Hunan province. He systematically investigates the accounts by Sima Qian – author of Records of the Grand Historian – regarding crossbow mechanisms, mercury rivers, and astronomical phenomena within the tomb, unveiling unseen aspects of ancient China to viewers.

Season 2 of Ancient China from Above was originally broadcasted in December 2023 on the National Geographic Channel, reaching audiences in Europe, Latin America, Africa, South Asia, Japan, and the Middle East. It achieved top ratings during its premiere in Germany, France, and the Middle East.

In order to protect and promote research of the Western Han Dynasty mural tomb, the archives and museum of XJTU have pioneered a VR virtual exhibition of the tomb's murals. This innovative approach showcases the brilliance and rich history of Chinese civilization from diverse perspectives.