The Terracotta Army is one of the most remarkable and iconic archaeological discoveries of the 20th century. Discovered in 1974 in the Chinese city of Xi’an, the army of clay figures is believed to have been constructed as a funerary art to accompany the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, into the afterlife. The army of terracotta warriors is a testament to the ancient artistry and technology of the Chinese people, and the complexity and scale of the project is still awe-inspiring today.
History of the Terracotta Army
The Terracotta Army was built in the late 3rd century BC by the order of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China. The emperor wanted the army to be buried with him in order to protect him in the afterlife. The construction of the army was a massive undertaking, and it took an estimated 700,000 workers and 38 years to complete. It is believed that the army was made up of over 8,000 life-sized figures, including warriors, chariots, horses, and even officials. The figures were made of terracotta clay, and each one was individually sculpted and painted.
Unearthing the Terracotta Army
The Terracotta Army was not discovered until 1974, when a group of farmers were digging a well in the area. They stumbled upon the first figure, which led to the excavation of the entire site. The excavation revealed a vast complex of underground tunnels and chambers, all filled with terracotta figures. The figures were in various stages of completion, some still in the process of being built and others finished and painted.
Preservation of the Terracotta Army
Since the discovery of the Terracotta Army, it has been the focus of intense archaeological research. The figures have been carefully excavated and preserved, and many have been restored to their original appearance. The army is now on display at the Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses in Xi’an, and it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city.
Features of the Terracotta Army
The figures of the Terracotta Army are life-sized and each one is unique. They are made from terracotta clay and then painted with bright colors. The figures are dressed in full armor, and each one is armed with a different weapon. The most common weapons are swords, spears, and crossbows. Some of the figures are riding chariots, while others are on horseback.
The most striking feature of the figures is their faces. Each figure has a unique face, with individual features such as a beard, moustache, or hairstyle. The figures also have unique facial expressions, ranging from stern to serene. It is believed that the faces were modeled on real people, including soldiers, officials, and even the emperor himself.
Technology Used in the Construction
The construction of the Terracotta Army was a remarkable feat of engineering and technology. The figures were made using a complex combination of molds and sculpting tools. The molds were used to create the basic shape of the figures, and then the details were added using sculpting tools. The figures were then painted with bright colors.
Legacy of the Terracotta Army
The Terracotta Army is one of the most impressive archaeological discoveries of the 20th century. It is a testament to the artistry and technology of the ancient Chinese people, and it has become a symbol of Chinese culture and history. The army of terracotta warriors is a reminder of the power and grandeur of the Chinese empire, and it continues to inspire awe and wonder in visitors today.