The Terracotta Army or the “Terracotta Warriors and Horses” is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. It is a form of funerary art buried with the emperor in 210–209 BC and whose purpose was to protect the emperor in his afterlife.
In 1974 a group of peasants digging a well, made what was to become the greatest archaeological find of the 20th century when they unearthed fragments of a life sized Terra Cotta Warrior. Excavation of the vault revealed thousands of warriors and their horses; an entire army designed follows its emperor into eternity. The site is located 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) east of the Qin Mausoleum. The emperor’s terra cotta army was found in three underground timber lined vaults.
The figures, dating from approximately the late third century BCE, vary in height according to their roles, with the tallest being the generals. The figures include warriors, chariots andhorses. Estimates from 2007 were that the three pits containing the Terracotta Army held more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, the majority of which remained buried in the pits nearby Qin Shi Huang’s mausoleum.
Pit 1 contained chariots and ranks of six thousand soldiers. Pit 2 held fourteen hundred figures of cavalrymen, horses and infantrymen, along with ninety wooden chariots. Pit 3 contained about seventy figures. Excavating them has been a massive undertaking. Now the museum is a stunning display that every visitor to China should see.
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