The Fascinating Story Of The Terracotta Army

by Rick Roberts
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The First Emperor of China’s mausoleum took over 36 years to complete. More than 700,000 men worked on this massive structure that was 22 square miles, and it was the job of the Terracotta Army to guard it during the construction phase.

A Poor Attempt At An Early Heist

Commander Xiang Yu was a rebel that wanted to rob the tomb. However, when his men entered the crypt, they found an army of clay pots. It appeared that many of the weapons had been used in previous battles, and he had every intention of using them once again. After finding the clay warriors, Yu’s army set the formation on fire. Once the structure collapsed, everything was crushed. More than two millennia went by, and the Terracotta Army was forgotten.

Farmers Discover The Remains of The Pots

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People were enthralled with the discovery. Children quickly gathered pieces trying to reassemble the warriors. Many of the villagers took arrowheads from the site in hopes of selling them for profit. Zhao Kangmin realized the importance of the pieces, and he set up a small museum to house the artifacts. However, they didn’t nearly begin to touch the surface of what lay beneath.

In 1974, drought spread through the land. Some local farmers were trying to dig a well when they hit what the thought was an old jar. What they hit was the Terracotta Army buried deep within the earth. The original looting caused much destruction, and the damage could be observed to the figures.

Archaeologists Excavate To Preserve History

In 1980, the most significant dig in history began. Local archaeologists wanted to excavate the entire Terracotta Army. It was believed that there were more than 7,000 of these figurines that existed. It would be quite a chore to reassemble them from the fragments left behind.

There were two pits of discovery. They collected over 6,000 of the figures. They found horses, chariots, infantry soldiers, artillery, and various other pieces. The work wasn’t finished as they found pieces that showed the labor was ongoing.

The earliest looters didn’t get near what they could have in the heist. There were more than 40,000 bronze weapons uncovered, which included the swords, spear tips, as well as halberd and arrowheads. Some wooden artifacts survived while others disintegrated with age.

Composition of The Terracotta Army

The biological composition of the clay utilized in the Terracotta Army suggests that it was all obtained nearby. Local supplies undoubtedly influenced the material selection. Terracotta is often used because it’s very durable. It’s a clay that must be hand-worked and cannot be put on a potter’s wheel. Additionally, it works well in mass production.

Those who built the clay tiles signed their pieces. One myth suggests that each soldier was made from the image of a real person. The intention was for this army to guard the crypt for more than ten thousand years. No other material would be capable of surviving for that length of time. There are no other known Terracotta Armies in history.

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