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Terracotta Army

Located in Xi’an, Shaanxi, China. This army is around 8810 pieces big. This large burial art piece was created for emperor Qin Shi Huang. His army was believed to protect him in his afterlife. Soldiers, chariots, horse and cavalry horses adorned his tomb. The build of the emperors Mausoleum started in 246 BC when the emperor, then King, was only 13 year old. 

Qin Shi Huang was the founder of the Qin Dynasty. He named himself the first emperor when he was 38 years. 25 years after he took the throne from his father who died within 3 years of his reign. According to historians Qin Shi Huang, born Zhao/Ying Zheng, was an illigimate child between Lü Buwei’s Concubine, later named Lady Zhao, and Prince Yiren. Prince Yiren was a hostage in the Kingdom of Zhao when he met merchant Lü Buwei. Lü Buwei saw a great opportunity in the young man and treated him well, So well even that he introduced and accepted marriage between his own concubine and Prince Yiren who later became King Zhuangxiang of Qin. Together they had a child named Zhao/Ying Zheng, which is rumoured to actually be Lü Buwei’s child.

It took years of black mail, tricks and wars until he could call himself the true first emperor of China. Unifying the countries states through natural disasters and wars he finally unified it through one communication, currency and language. When he became older he became very afraid of death and “evil spirits” so much so that he went on a quest to find the elixir of life. He had his workers build him series of tunnels and passageways under his 200+ palaces to stay hidden from these evil spirits. He also spent years searching until he finally parished from Mercury poisoning. Mercury  believed to be the elixir of life mixed by his alchemists.

After his death it took two months to get back to China’s capitol Xianyang, in which time the prime minister hid the news of the kings passing. Making the track almost unbearable when he made them carry large crates of rotting fish in front and behind the emperors wagon. It was mostly because the emperor died during the summertime and the decomposition of the body was accelerated by the heat.

Eventually, after about two months, Li Si and the imperial court reached Xianyang, where the news of the death of the emperor was announced. Qin Shi Huang did not like to talk about his own death and he had never written a will. After his death, the eldest son Fusu would normally become the next emperor.

Li Si and the chief eunuch Zhao Gao conspired to kill Fusu because Fusu’s favorite general was Meng Tian, whom they disliked and feared; Meng Tian’s brother, a senior minister, had once punished Zhao Gao. They believed that if Fusu was enthroned, they would lose their power. Li Si and Zhao Gao forged a letter from Qin Shi Huang saying that both Fusu and General Meng must commit suicide. The plan worked, and the younger son Hu Hai became the Second Emperor, later known as Qin Er Shi or “Second Generation Qin.”

Qin Er Shi, however, was not as capable as his father. Revolts quickly erupted. His reign was a time of extreme civil unrest, and everything built by the First Emperor crumbled away within a short period. One of the immediate revolt attempts was the 209 BC Daze Village Uprising led by Chen Sheng and Wu Guang.
The Mausoleum and his warriors

The first fragments of warriors and bronze arrowheads were discovered by Yang Zhifa, his five brothers, and Wang Puzhi who were digging a well in March 1974 in Xiyang, a village of the Lintong county. At a depth of around two meters, they found hardened dirt, then red earthenware, fragments of terracotta, bronze arrowheads and terracotta bricks. Yang Zhifa threw the fragments of terracotta in the corner of the field, and collected the arrowheads to sell them to a commercial agency. Other villagers took terracotta bricks to make pillows. A manager in charge of the hydraulic works, Fang Shumiao, saw the objects found and suggested to the villagers that they sell them to the cultural centre of the district. Yang Zhifa received, for two carts of fragments of what would turn out to be terracotta warriors, the amount of 10 yuan. Zhao Kangmin, responsible of the cultural centre, then came to the village and bought everything that the villagers uncovered, as well as re-purchasing the arrowheads sold to the commercial agency.

In May 1974, a team of archaeologists from Shaanxi went to the site to undertake the first excavations of what would later be designated Pit 1. In May 1976, Pit 2 was discovered by drilling and in July the Pit 3. The excavations over an area of 20,000 square meters produced about 7,000 statues of terracotta warriors and horses, and about a hundred wooden battle chariots and numerous weapons. Large structures have been erected to protect the pits; the first was finished in 1979. A larger necropolis of six hundred pits have been uncovered by 2008. Some pits were found a few kilometers away from the mound of the tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang.

The tomb itself has not yet been excavated. Archaeological explorations currently concentrate on various sites of the extensive necropolis surrounding the tomb, including the Terracotta Army to the east of the tomb mound. The Terracotta Army served as a homebase to the mausoleum and has yet to be completely excavated, The tomb appears to be a hermetically sealed space roughly the size of a football pitch (c. 100 × 75 m). The tomb remains unopened, possibly due to concerns over preservation of its artifacts. For example, after the excavation of the Terracotta Army, the painted surface present on some terracotta figures began to flake and fade. The lacquer covering the paint can curl in fifteen seconds once exposed to Xi’an’s dry air and can flake off in just four minutes.

The Terracotta Army is part of a much larger necropolis. Ground-penetrating radar and core sampling have measured the area to be approximately 98 square kilometers (38 square miles).


The necropolis was constructed as a microcosm of the emperor’s imperial palace or compound, and covers a large area around the tomb mound of the first emperor. The earthen tomb mound is located at the foot of Mount Li and built in a pyramidal shape, and is surrounded by two solidly built rammed earth walls with gateway entrances. The necropolis consists of several offices, halls, stables, other structures as well as an imperial park placed around the tomb mound.

The warriors stand guard to the east of the tomb. Up to 5 metres (16 ft) of reddish, sandy soil had accumulated over the site in the two millennia following its construction, but archaeologists found evidence of earlier disturbances at the site. During the excavations near the Mount Li burial mound, archaeologists found several graves dating from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, where diggers had apparently struck terracotta fragments. These were discarded as worthless and used along with soil to back fill the excavations.


The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at the moment exhibits ten Terracotta Army figures and other artifacts, “Terracotta Warriors of the First Emperor,” from 30 September 2017 to 4 March 2018 with the addition of augmented reality.

An exhibition entitled “China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors” will take place at the World Museum in Liverpool from 9 February 2018 to 28 October 2018. This will be the first time in more than 10 years that the warriors have travelled to the UK.

But if you are in China and you would love to see the actual mausoleum you can go to Lintong District, Xi’an, Shaanxi province of China. Tripadvisor can help you!

When you have, tell us what you thought of it! We’re super curious!
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Credit: All information from Wikipedia and other sites
Photos: all from Google


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