The Terracotta Army 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 BCE with the purpose of protecting him in his afterlife.

The figures, dating from approximately the late 200s BCE, were discovered in 1974 by local farmers in Lintong County, outside Xi'an, Shaanxi, China. The figures vary in height according to their rank, the tallest being the generals. The figures include warriors, chariots and horses. Estimates from 2007 were that the three pits containing the Terracotta Army hold more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses, and 150 cavalry horses, the majority of which remain in situ in the pits near Qin Shi Huang's mausoleum. Other, non-military terracotta figures have been found in other pits, including officia...Read more

The Terracotta Army 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 BCE with the purpose of protecting him in his afterlife.

The figures, dating from approximately the late 200s BCE, were discovered in 1974 by local farmers in Lintong County, outside Xi'an, Shaanxi, China. The figures vary in height according to their rank, the tallest being the generals. The figures include warriors, chariots and horses. Estimates from 2007 were that the three pits containing the Terracotta Army hold more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses, and 150 cavalry horses, the majority of which remain in situ in the pits near Qin Shi Huang's mausoleum. Other, non-military terracotta figures have been found in other pits, including officials, acrobats, strongmen, and musicians.

 The mound where the tomb is located Plan of the Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum and location of the Terracotta Army ( ). The central tomb itself has yet to be excavated.[1]

The construction of the tomb was described by historian Sima Qian (145–90 BCE) in Records of the Grand Historian, the first of China's 24 dynastic histories, written a century after the mausoleum's completion. Work on the mausoleum began in 246 BCE, soon after Emperor Qin (then aged 13) succeeded his father as King of Qin, and the project eventually involved 700,000 conscripted workers.[2][3] Geographer Li Daoyuan, writing six centuries after the first emperor's death, recorded in Shui Jing Zhu that Mount Li was a favoured location due to its auspicious geology: "famed for its jade mines, its northern side was rich in gold, and its southern side rich in beautiful jade; the first emperor, covetous of its fine reputation, therefore chose to be buried there".[4][5]

Sima Qian wrote that the first emperor was buried with palaces, towers, officials, valuable artifacts and wondrous objects. According to this account, 100 flowing rivers were simulated using mercury, and above them the ceiling was decorated with heavenly bodies, below which lay the features of the land. Some translations of this passage refer to "models" or "imitations"; however, those words were not used in the original text, which also makes no mention of the terracotta army.[2][6] High levels of mercury were found in the soil of the tomb mound, giving credence to Sima Qian's account.[7] Also, the Emperor is well documented for building monumental statues in human form during his reign, such as the Twelve Metal Colossi.[8][9]

Later historical accounts suggested that the complex and tomb itself had been looted by Xiang Yu, a contender for the throne after the death of the first emperor.[10][11][12] However, there are indications that the tomb itself may not have been plundered.[13]

Discovery

The Terracotta Army was discovered on 29 March 1974 by a group of farmers—Yang Zhifa, his five brothers, and neighbour Wang Puzhi—who were digging a well approximately 1.5 km (0.93 mi) east of the Qin Emperor's tomb mound at Mount Li (Lishan),[14][15][16][17] a region riddled with underground springs and watercourses. For centuries, occasional reports mentioned pieces of terracotta figures and fragments of the Qin necropolis – roofing tiles, bricks and chunks of masonry.[18] This discovery prompted Chinese archaeologists, including Zhao Kangmin, to investigate,[19] revealing the largest pottery figurine group ever found. A museum complex has since been constructed over the area, the largest pit being enclosed by a roofed structure.[20]

^ WILLIAMS, A. R. (12 October 2016). "Discoveries May Rewrite History of China's Terra-Cotta Warriors". National Geographic. Archived from the original on 28 February 2021. ^ a b Sima Qian – Shiji Volume 6 Archived 5 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine 《史記•秦始皇本紀》 Original text: 始皇初即位,穿治酈山,及並天下,天下徒送詣七十餘萬人,穿三泉,下銅而致槨,宮觀百官奇器珍怪徙臧滿之。令匠作機駑矢,有所穿近者輒射之。以水銀為百川江河大海,機相灌輸,上具天文,下具地理。以人魚膏為燭,度不滅者久之。二世曰:"先帝後宮非有子者,出焉不宜。" 皆令從死,死者甚眾。葬既已下,或言工匠為機,臧皆知之,臧重即泄。大事畢,已臧,閉中羨,下外羨門,盡閉工匠臧者,無複出者。樹草木以象山。 Translation: When the First Emperor ascended the throne, the digging and preparation at Mount Li began. After he unified his empire, 700,000 men were sent there from all over his empire. They dug down deep to underground springs, pouring copper to place the outer casing of the coffin. Palaces and viewing towers housing a hundred officials were built and filled with treasures and rare artifacts. Workmen were instructed to make automatic crossbows primed to shoot at intruders. Mercury was used to simulate the hundred rivers, the Yangtze and Yellow River, and the great sea, and set to flow mechanically. Above, the heaven is depicted, below, the geographical features of the land. Candles were made of "mermaid"'s fat which is calculated to burn and not extinguish for a long time. The Second Emperor said: "It is inappropriate for the wives of the late emperor who have no sons to be free", ordered that they should accompany the dead, and a great many died. After the burial, it was suggested that it would be a serious breach if the craftsmen who constructed the tomb and knew of its treasure were to divulge those secrets. Therefore, after the funeral ceremonies had completed, the inner passages and doorways were blocked, and the exit sealed, immediately trapping the workers and craftsmen inside. None could escape. Trees and vegetation were then planted on the tomb mound such that it resembled a hill. ^ "Chinese terra cotta warriors had real, and very carefully made weapons". The Washington Post. 26 November 2012. Archived from the original on 19 October 2016. Retrieved 19 October 2016. ^ Clements 2007, p. 158. ^ Shui Jing Zhu Chapter 19 Archived 17 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine 《水經注•渭水》Original text: 秦始皇大興厚葬,營建塚壙於驪戎之山,一名藍田,其陰多金,其陽多美玉,始皇貪其美名,因而葬焉。 ^ Portal 2007, p. 17. ^ Portal 2007, p. 202. ^ Qingbo, Duan, Director of the excavation team at the First Emperor's necropolis from 1998 to 2006 (2022). "Sino-Western Cultural Exchange as Seen through the Archaeology of the First Emperor's Necropolis". Journal of Chinese History 中國歷史學刊. 7: 67–70. doi:10.1017/jch.2022.25. ISSN 2059-1632. S2CID 251690411.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link) ^ Nickel, Lukas (October 2013). "The First Emperor and sculpture in China". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies. 76 (3): 436–450. doi:10.1017/S0041977X13000487. ISSN 0041-977X. ^ Shui Jing Zhu Chapter 19 Archived 17 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine 《水經注•渭水》 Original text: 項羽入關,發之,以三十萬人,三十日運物不能窮。關東盜賊,銷槨取銅。牧人尋羊,燒之,火延九十日,不能滅。Translation: Xiang Yu entered the gate, sent forth 300,000 men, but they could not finish carrying away his loot in 30 days. Thieves from northeast melted the coffin and took its copper. A shepherd looking for his lost sheep burned the place, the fire lasted 90 days and could not be extinguished. ^ Sima Qian – Shiji Volume 8 Archived 6 May 2015 at the Wayback Machine 《史記•高祖本紀》 Original text: 項羽燒秦宮室,掘始皇帝塚,私收其財物 Translation: Xiang Yu burned the Qin palaces, dug up the First Emperor's tomb, and expropriated his possessions. ^ Han Shu Archived 8 December 2015 at the Wayback Machine《漢書·楚元王傳》:Original text: "項籍焚其宮室營宇,往者咸見發掘,其後牧兒亡羊,羊入其鑿,牧者持火照球羊,失火燒其藏槨。" Translation: Xiang burned the palaces and buildings. Later observers witnessed the excavated site. Afterward, a shepherd lost his sheep which went into the dug tunnel; the shepherd held a torch to look for his sheep, and accidentally set fire to the place and burned the coffin. ^ "Royal Chinese treasure discovered". BBC News. 20 October 2005. Archived from the original on 15 December 2006. Retrieved 3 December 2011. ^ Agnew, Neville (3 August 2010). Conservation of Ancient Sites on the Silk Road. Getty Publications. p. 214. ISBN 978-1606060131. Archived from the original on 29 March 2023. Retrieved 11 July 2012. ^ Glancey, Jonathan (12 April 2017). "The Army that Conquered the World". BBC. Archived from the original on 28 October 2019. Retrieved 10 December 2019. ^ O. Louis Mazzatenta. "Emperor Qin's Terracotta Army". National Geographic. Archived from the original on 25 February 2017. Retrieved 22 November 2010. ^ The precise coordinates are 34°23′5.71″N 109°16′23.19″E / 34.3849194°N 109.2731083°E / 34.3849194; 109.2731083) ^ Clements 2007, pp. 155, 157, 158, 160–161, 166. ^ Ingber, Sasha (20 May 2018). "Archaeologist Who Uncovered China's 8,000-Man Terra Cotta Army Dies At 82". npr.org. Archived from the original on 21 May 2018. Retrieved 21 May 2018. ^ "Army of Terracotta Warriors". Lonely Planet. Archived from the original on 21 August 2016. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
Photographies by:
palindrome6996 - CC BY 2.0
thierrytutin - CC BY 2.0
kevinmcgill from Den Bosch, Netherlands - CC BY-SA 2.0
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