Terracotta Army; Guidance of the First Chinese Emperor

Terracotta Army; Guidance of the First Chinese Emperor

Terracotta Army; Guidance of the First Chinese Emperor…

On March 29, 1974, Chinese miners unearthed an army of 8,000 clay warrior figurines called the Terracotta Army that had been buried to defend the tomb of the first unified China’s ruler, Qin Shi Huang, who founded the Qin dynasty.

A complete army of life-size terra cotta soldiers and horses were buried for more than 2,000 years close to the unexcavated tomb of Qin Shi Huangdi, who had proclaimed himself the first emperor of China in 221 B.C.

The location, where the former capital of Qin Shi Huangdi, Xianyang, formerly stood, is about 30 minutes’ drive from congested Xi’an (pop. 8.5 million). It is a dry, sagebrush land that is home to persimmon and pomegranate trees. It is severely cold in the winter and sweltering hot in the summer. Yet, motels and a roadside gift shop selling five-foot-tall clay figures give the impression that something besides fruit production is taking place here.

Over the past 35 years, archaeologists have discovered 600 pits throughout a 22-square-mile area, which make up a complex of underground vaults that have mainly remained unexcavated. Some are difficult to access, but three large trenches are contained within the four-acre Museum of the Terracotta Army, which was built around the discovery site and inaugurated in 1979. Long warrior columns made of patched-together fragments stand in formation in one pit. The troops display an astounding level of originality with their goatees or close-cropped beards, topknots or caps, tunics or armored vests.

In a second hole inside the museum, they are displayed as they did when they were first discovered: some are standing and covered in soil up to their shoulders, while others rest on their backs next to broken and fallen clay horses. The location is one of the top tourist destinations in China, along with the Great Wall and the Forbidden City in Beijing.

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