XI'AN, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) -- A mysterious tomb suspected of belonging to the last emperor of the Qin Dynasty (221 BC - 206 BC) will not be excavated until thorough studies are conducted for subsequent protection plans, according to China's cultural heritage authorities.
The State Administration of Cultural Heritage (SACH) has rejected a proposal to unearth the suspected resting place of Ziying, the grandson of Ying Zheng, or Emperor Qinshihuang (259 BC - 210 BC), the first person to unify China.
Sources with the cultural heritage bureau of Shaanxi Province told Xinhua on Sunday that SACH refused Shaanxi's proposal mainly because the tomb is too close to the famous Qinshihuang Mausoleum.
The tomb, discovered in 2003, lies about 500 meters northwest of the Qinshihuang Mausoleum -- a site authorities have banned from being excavated over concerns about damage.
Archaeological authorities in Shaanxi had previously proposed excavating the tomb site, 109 meters long and 26 meters wide, as part of their investigations around the first emperor's mausoleum, which is known for its Terra Cotta Army, in the provincial capital of Xi'an.
In an official reply, SACH said that given the tomb site's close proximity the Qinshihuang Mausoleum, thorough research and evaluations should be conducted in order to develop a proper protection plan.
The tomb's location and the emperor-level structure have led to the belief that it belonged to Ziying, the third and last emperor of the Qin Dynasty.
Historical records show that the young emperor held the title for just 46 days before the empire was overthrown by rebels and he himself killed. His burial site has remained a mystery ever since.