Legend has it that in 206BC the first emperor of unified China, Shi Huang-te, decreed that after his death his body should be clothed in jade, cast adrift in a lake of mercury within a pyramid, and protected by an everlasting army. In 1974, archaeologists discovered the first of more than 7000 lifesize terracotta warriors buried near the pyramid tomb of Shi Huang-te, confirming that the legend was more than a myth. But why were the massive soldiers, each weighing more than half a tonne, buried there at all? Was it simply to guard the emperor in the afterlife? Or was there more to the legend?