China’s First Emperor, Creator Of The Terracotta Army, And His Obsessive Quest To Find An Elixir Of Life

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New archaeological evidence has revealed that China’s first emperor Qin Shihuang, the creator of the world famous Terracotta Army, was on an obsessively dedicated quest to find an elixir of life that would provide the key to immortality. An elixir of life is something that has long been sought after and dreamed about, and H. Rider Haggard brilliantly described the subject in 1886 in his Victorian novel She.

Haggard gave his novel’s protagonist Ayesha, or She Who Must Be Obeyed, the opportunity to bathe in the fire of life and fulfill her ambition to have eternal youth and win the man she loved. This set about a series of disastrous consequences in which she was doomed to live virtually alone in the African caves of Kor amidst a lost civilization of people for thousands of years before the man she waited for would return to her.

China’s first emperor appears to have firmly believed that there was an elixir of life available and his search for immortality led him to search the entirety of China for this elixir, according to France 24. The many journeys he sent his people on were recorded for posterity 2,000 years ago and preserved on flat pieces of wood which were held together by string, and the BBC has reported that these pieces of wood were first discovered in 2002 resting inside the bottom of a well waiting patiently to be found so their story could be told.

Despite issuing his executive order decreeing that his people must find him an elixir to give him unending life, Qin Shihuang’s search was in vain as various governments across China all reported back that try as they might, they were just not able to find anything to prolong their emperor’s life.

Even the region of Langya, which had initially hoped that a special herb taken “from an auspicious local mountain” could lead to life eternal, were forced to report back to Shihuang that they had been mistaken in their estimation of this herb.

The Xinhua news agency reported that among the 36,000 pieces of wood documenting the quest for an elixir was also a message from the region of Duxiang in which they had to break the news to China’s emperor that while they too had failed to find him an elixir, they were still hopeful that if they continued their search perhaps something may eventually be found.

China’s first emperor eventually succumbed to death at the tender age of 49 in 210 BC, and while his search for an elixir of life proved elusive in the end, his creation of 8,000 terracotta soldiers designed to protect him in the afterlife has still managed to make him immortal in a certain sense.