SECRETS OF LOST PYRAMIDS is a journey to an astonishing place - China's "Valley of the Kings" - and back to an astonishing time - the world of the first emperors of China - to discover pyramid tombs of stupendous size, filled with astonishing riches in preparation for an afterlife beyond imagination. In 221 BC, China's First Emperor united warring kingdoms into a nation that still exists today. To memorialize his achievement, the First Emperor built a tomb like none ever seen in China - one of the biggest mortuary complexes ever built on earth. China's second dynasty, the Han, inherited a daunting challenge from the First Emperor. Thanks to the precedent of his enormous tomb, they had to build themselves mausoleums big enough to command respect and establish their right to rule. But they had to do so without bankrupting the national treasury and oppressing thousands of workers - which had led to the downfall of the First Emperor's Qin dynasty after his death. For eleven generations, Han emperors succeeded in building huge tombs and staying on the throne. Although no Han emperor's tomb has been opened, the tombs of lesser Han aristocrats have revealed astonishing things: complete underground palaces (including kitchens and toilets) and at least one corpse so amazingly well-preserved that some believe that Han tomb-builders knew how to "engineer immortality" by, among other things, wrapping tombs in layers of charcoal and clay to keep out water and air. But most tombs were robbed, leaving another dynasty hundreds of years later- the brilliant Tang - to lead a revolution in tomb design, tunneling simple shaft-tombs into natural mountains, and filling them with small and inexpensive grave goods that symbolized more than reproduced the perfect afterlife.

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