The terra cotta warriors were
accidentally discovered by Chinese peasants while
digging a well. This discovery prompted archaeologists
to proceed to Shaanxi, China to investigate. No
one knows why this site became buried and lost
among memories in the clay and in the minds of
China. What they found was the ancient burial
- site of the first Chinese Emperor Qin Shihuangdi.
These warriors were placed all around the burial
tomb of Emperor Qin. Before Qin, masters were
buried with women, slaves, and soldiers. This
tradition during China's feudal period vanished
during the life of Qin. To substitute for the
actual humans, Qin ordered a massive clay army
to be produced for his protection. Qin wanted
the afterlife to be the same as his life on earth.
Qin produced a warlike culture in China, which
brought him many enemies. During his lifetime
there were three attempts to assassinate him,
so he had to be protected in the afterlife.
The first site was excavated in 1974. Although
much of the site had been looted soon after it
was built, archaeologists discovered 6,000 pottery
figures. This oblong shaped site is 689 feet long,
197 feet wide. The trenches that contain the soldiers
are 14.8 to 21.3 feet deep. The actual bodies
of the soldiers were formed out of terra cotta
clay. Each soldier was baked in a kiln. The positioning
of the soldiers in the oblong shape shows an actual
battle formation of the troops. These warriors
were dressed and ready for battle. They carried
spears and various other combat weapons. Each
warrior is wearing an army uniform which distinguishes
the soldier's rank. The soldier's uniforms were
painted either red or green. They also wore either
brown or black armor. Different types of warriors
include bowman, infantrymen, and among these soldiers
are six chariots. Each soldier has a distinct
facial expression. Even the horses found at this
site have different poses. Both the hands and
the heads of the soldiers are detachable. These
pieces of the body were carefully crafted and
painted separately. The purpose of this was to
provide the soldier with individuality and uniqueness.
This also shows the quality of Chinese art during
this time. These soldiers were made to be naturalistic.
The height of the normal soldiers ranges from
5 ft. 8 in. to 6 ft. 2.5 in. Those that rode the
chariots were 6 ft. 2.5 in. The commanders were
the tallest out of all the soldiers. They stood
6 ft. 5 in. Clearly height represented the importance
of the officer.
The second excavation occurred in
May of 1976. This pit contains 1,400 warriors
with horses. It is 64,000 square feet in area.
Pit number two differs greatly from the first
pit. The battle formation was square. This pit
contains sixty-four chariots. It has divided groups
which include infantrymen, cavalrymen and even
commanders to guide the troops. This display of
soldiers gives insight into the work that went
into the Chinese army. Long distance battles had
to be fought by using many chariots. The facial
expressions of the men in this pit are also very
different from those men in the first pit.
The third pit was discovered in 1980.
This pit is the smallest out of the three discovered.
It contains only one chariot, six warriors, and
a small amount of weapons. This room is thought
to be a group of special commanders. A fourth
pit was also discovered. This room is bare. This
room is probably empty because the workers did
not complete the warriors in time for Qin's death.
Archaeologists continue to excavate
the burial site if Emperor Qin. His actual tomb
has not been excavated. These warriors will continue
to give insight into the history of both Chinese
art and war tactics. They represent a microcosm
of life during the Qin Dynasty. The dynasties
following Qin would pattern their lives after
this great dynasty of the Fist Emperor of China.
Xi'an Travel Attractions
of Stone Steles