The Terracotta Army is a world-renowned site, usually crowded with many visitors from all around the world. The site has been visited by millions of people who have been wowed by its mystery and beauty. Its discovery is considered one of the greatest architectural findings of the 20th century.
But are you aware of the fact that the Terracotta Army’s warriors have different uniforms, ranks, or that each terracotta warrior has unique facial features, hairstyle, and most of the warriors carry real weapons? Whether you’re aware or not, let’s do a bit of excavation ourselves through these interesting facts about the Terracotta Army in search of more relics…
The first ruler of China spent much of his life searching for immortality and built himself a tomb complex that covered 20 square miles.
China’s first emperor Qin Shi Huang, who unified the warring kingdoms, ordered the construction of the terracotta army as soon as he rose to the throne in 246 BC.
Most of his resolutions were made by officials as he was only 13.
Allegedly the Prime Minister Li Si devised the project and its head supervisor was Zhang Han, the Senior General of Qin’s Army.
More than 700,000 workers were registered or forced to take part in the construction, counting soldiers, craftsmen, and peasants.
Four pits were planned to be built.
At the time when the terracotta army was partially dug, 3 of the pits contained terracotta warriors and one pit was empty. It’s believed that it wasn’t finished because of Qin’s sudden death in his 50s, and his tomb remains unexcavated.
There was a terracotta army of over 8,000 clay soldiers accompanying the emperor Qin in the afterlife.
The excavation and renovation of the terracotta army are on-going. More terracotta figures are waiting to be excavated.
More than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots, and 670 horses have been uncovered since the discovery of the terracotta army.
Terracotta musicians, acrobats, concubines and birds have been discovered in recent pits. It is believed that Qin wanted the same impressive amenities and treatment for his afterlife.
Local farmers in Xiyang Village, while digging a well, accidentally discovered the terracotta army in March 1974.
When they found broken pottery pieces they assumed that they found an abandoned kiln.
The local farmers excavated several broken life-sized terracotta warriors and realized that there might be ancient relics and reported to the government.
The Shaanxi Provincial Archaeological Team excavated the Terracotta Army and it resurfaced to the public.
The find was even celebrated as the Eighth Wonder of the World by the former French Prime Minister Chirac in 1978.
In 1987 the archaeological site was marked as a UNESCO world heritage site.
The terracotta army endured over 2200 years. It was built in 246 BC or 247 BC.
According to Sima Qian’s historical records, it took about 40 years to build this terracotta army. Due to Qin Shi Huang’s sudden death, the terracotta army was buried in his mausoleum.
In ancient times, people believed in the afterlife, and human sacrifices were considered normal.
Around 550 BC evidence of human sacrifice was found at the tomb of Qin’s King before Qin Shi Huang.
Even though Qin was pursuing immortality during his rule, he was still preparing for the afterlife, with his army to guard his tomb, announcing that his ruling would continue even after his death.
The terracotta army might have served as a substitute for the actual human sacrifices and a way to display the glory of Qin’s empire at the same time.
The potters and craftsmen who made the terracotta army were from the lower class of the Qin Empire.
Some of these potters came from government pottery workshops and some from local pottery workshops.
To control the quality of the clay warriors and manage the project’s craftsmen each part of the pottery was signed and noted.
The archaeologists found inscriptions or stamps unearthed the terracotta figures and horses. Usually, 2 to 11 words were used, and besides the warrior’s ID, the craftsman’s name was also on the pottery.
80 pottery names were found on the terracotta figures, all of them exceptional pottery workers with experience.
During this difficult and time-consuming project, many people died dedicating all their life to the creation of the terracotta army. They were found buried around the tomb.
Because of Qin’s sudden death, many of the craftsmen were buried alive as human sacrifice around the tomb, to keep the mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang a secret.
A standing terracotta warrior statue is about 1.8 to 2 meters high, while the base of the terracotta warriors and horses is about 5cm to 20cm.
The real height of a standing terracotta warrior from its foot to the top is about 170cm to 181cm.
The average height of the ancient people in the Qin Dynasty was about 166cm, according to archaeological data.
The terracotta warriors and horses are about 10 m2 taller than the average height of the people in the same period.
The shape of the terracotta army is quite different and no two figures are exactly alike.
A single terracotta warrior has an average weight of about 180 kg, while the heaviest is the terracotta horse, at more than 300 kg.
The heaviest terracotta warrior (of the kneeling and shooting terracotta army) is about 250 kg and the lightest is about 100 kg.
The paint found on the terracotta army is being preserved by scientists using various techniques.