chinese pyramid

No one new about Chinese pyramids until World War II, when the existence of hundreds of large and small earth pyramids scattered throughout various areas of China was first revealed by American photo intelligence. Pictures of them were recorded in late war photomapping of China near Xian, on July 4 1945, but for security reasons at that time were kept a closely guarded secret. They represent perhaps the earliest photo record of these structures and the plains around this ancient political center were found to be dotted with them. A few have base dimensions twice those of the more famous Egyptian pyramids.

The largest pyramid shown in the lower photo below is Mount Li (circa 210 B.C.), the fifteen-story-tall burial mound of Shi Huang-di, builder of the Great Wall and first emperor of China. The other mounds are imperial burial sites from later eras, mainly the Eastern Han Dynasty (A.A. 24-221).

Following the end of World War II, one of the first newspapers to break the story in the United States was the Rocky Mountain News. In a news item published March 31, 1947, it carried a close-up picture of a large pyramid photographed by aviator Maurice Sheahan, Far Eastern director of Trans-world Airlines, with accompanying text:

The giant pyramid reported discovered by an American aviator flying over Shanxi Province in China is in a land of pyramids, the heart of ancient Chinese civilization.

If the pyramid is located by exploring parties on the ground, it probably will never rival the famous pyramids of Egypt as a tourist sight. The Chinese pyramids of that region are built of mud and dirt and are more like mounds than the pyramids of Egypt, and the region is little travelled.

American scientists who have been in the area suggest that the height of 1000 feet, more than twice as high as any of the Egyptian pyramids, may have been exaggerated, because most of the Chinese mounds of that area are built relatively low.

The location, reported 40 miles southwest of Xian, is in an area of great archaeological importance, but few of the pyramids have ever been explored.

Scientists who have sought to excavate in the region have had difficulties with the local authorities. Like the pyramids of Egypt, it is expected that the mounds of this area have been looted for centuries by the natives.

Pyramids, such as the one reported by the American flier, are the tombs of ancient peoples, with the biggest pyramids containing numerous artefacts.

Best estimates are that the newly “discovered” pyramid is at least 2000 years old.