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CHINA: Xian Terracotta Warriors

19th Jan 2018

Join our Shanghai International Literary Festival and Tour and we also vist the amazing Terracotta Warriors. The Terracotta Army was discovered on 29 March 1974 by farmers digging a water well approximately 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) east of the Qin Emperor's tomb mound at Mount Li   region  with underground springs and watercourses. For centuries, occasional reports mentioned pieces of terracotta figures and fragments of the roofing tiles, bricks and chunks of masonry. This discovery prompted Chinese archaeologists to investigate, revealing the largest pottery figurine group ever found in China. It is regarded as one of the greatest discoveries of the 20th century. It had lain underground for more than 2000 years before the farmers uncovered what is now considered one of the greatest archaeological sites in the world.

In December 1987, UNESCO selected the Tomb of the First Emperor (including the Terracotta Army Pits) as a World Cultural Heritage Site.

The museum mainly consists of three Pits and an exhibition hall: Pit One, Pit Two, Pit Three, and The Exhibition Hall of the Bronze Chariots.  The Pits are arrayed as the buried army was in strict accordance with the ancient directives on the Art of War: facing east towards the ancient enemies of Qin State 

 

Pit one is usually crowded with tourists. According to our experienced guide, the best views are from the front of the Pit around the corners.

Pit One is the largest and most impressive — the size of an airplane hangar. It is believed to contain over 6,000 terracotta figures of soldiers and horses, but less than 2,000 are on display. All the most impressive Terracotta Army pictures were taken in Vault One.

All soldiers and horses face east in a rectangular array, each one either armed long spear, dragger or halberd. The vanguard appears to be three rows of infantry who stand at the easternmost end of the army. Close behind is the main force of armored soldiers holding weapons, accompanied by 38 horse-driven chariots.

On the southern, northern, and western side there stand one row of figures serving as the army's defense wing. Standing in front of such a grand ancient army array, one would feel the ground shake to the footsteps of the advancing soldiers.

Every figure differs in facial features and expression, clothing, hairstyle, and gestures, providing abundant and detailed artifacts for the study of the military, cultural, and economic history of that period.

This Pit opened to visitors in 1979. It measures about 210 meters long and 62 meters wide and the bottom of the pit varies from 4.5 meters to 6.5 meters below ground level. Ten earthen walls were built at intervals of 2.5 meters, forming 9 circling corridors.

 

Pit 2 began being excavated in 1976, Pit Two stands about 20 meters north to Vault One. As the highlight of the whole mausoleum, it uncovers the mystery of the ancient army array. It consists of four units, measuring 94 meters east to west and 84 meters south to north and 5 meters deep., forming a 6000 sq. meter built-up area.

The first unit contains rows of kneeling and standing archers; the second one is a chariot war array; the third unit consists of mixed forces with infantry, chariot and trooper standing in rectangular array; and the last one includes numerous troopers holding weapons. The four units form a rigorous battle array.

Pit Three the smallest Pit. There are only 68 terracotta figures, many of which are without heads. It's obvious that Pit Three represents the command post, as all the figures are officials.

 

The Exhibition of Bronze Chariots

The two bronze carriages displayed in the hall were discovered 20 meters from the west side of the Tomb of Qin Shihuang in December 1980, and were elaborately restored before exhibition.

The carriages have about 3,400 parts each and were driven by four horses. The second one is 3.17meters long and 1.06 meters high. The bronze horses vary from 65 cm to 67 cm high and 120 cm long. Each weighs 1,234 kg in total.

They were mainly made of bronze, but there were 1,720 pieces of golden and silver ornaments, weighting 7 kg, on each carriage. The carriages were so well-made, and so vivid, that they boast being the best-preserved and having the highest rank among the earliest known bronze relics in China. These chariots are the biggest pieces of ancient bronzeware ever found in the world.