Theses Master's

What Should We Interpret First In An Archaeological Site: A Value-Based Identification Of Character-Defining Features In First Qin Emperor’s Mausoleum

Fan, Xianqi

This thesis proposed a method for the value-based identification of the site’s character-defining features. I contribute to solving a common problem at large heritage sites, which is how to present a sense of the whole site when only small pieces are visible and have been excavated.

As a case study, I focus on the First Qin Emperor’s Mausoleum constructed from 247-208 BC, because if reflects this tension between the entire heritage site and the excavated fragments. The Terra-Cotta Army Museum is known around the world, but it is only a small portion of the entire mausoleum site, the first in-situ museum as built in 1979 to exhibit the pits of terra-cotta figures, and it is an astounding 1.5 km east of the core mausoleum area. To fix the problem, and present a more complete site interpretation, the Shaanxi Cultural Relics Bureau constructed the mausoleum site park in 2009.

However, it failed to solve the problem. The official tourist investigation survey done between 2012 and 2014 revealed that the Terra-Cotta Army Museum was still eclipsing the rest of the site.
My thesis shows that in order to better understand the whole site, its major character-defining features must be presented to the public in a visible, physical way. Through my value-based method, I identified the axial paths and perimeter walls as the character-defining features that although primary in the hierarchy of importance, are not sufficiently visible to the public and therefore go by un-noticed. Because what is most important is not visible, I conclude by arguing for a partial reconstruction of the perimeter wall next to the remaining wall fragment and on the ancient foundation.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Historic Preservation
Thesis Advisors
Otero-Pailos, Jorge
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
June 24, 2019