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).
Read more about the history in our previous post
The Terracotta Army in Rotterdam
In May of 2019, replicas of the original terracotta army have come on display in Rotterdam, located near the indoor shopping mall Alexandrium. Organised by the Dutch-Chinese Chamber of commerce in the hopes of exchanging culture and teaching about the Terracotta Army made in 221 BC.
I got the chance to go and see the exhibition, taking place in an old shop that they decorated with Chinese attributes. There are two beautiful cranes on the left side when you come in, take your time examining them.
When you enter you can move in two directions, the first one you can look at the Army’s created, They depict a couple of them as they were found, and still reside in Xi’an. There are a couple of signs explaining about their history and where they were found. They also show a movie with snippets of the real army and how they recreated some of the statues by using the ancient techniques. If you’re interested in it it’s worth the sit.
They have quite a small but still impressive stand that shows how the army is stood behind each other and you get to go really close and really look at the faces, which by the way were made (also with the real statues) with different features. Not a single face is the same and they show a small horses and chariot which is really pretty.
If you walk on they have a display with ancient tools and clothes that you can see and a row of pictures made in various places in China that are very beautiful. Take your time to look at each and every picture. My personal opinion is that I would love to see this exhibition much bigger because I love museums and exhibitions and I could spend a full day looking at things like these. It’s actually quite small but I like the way it was set up and I really enjoyed looking at each statue up close. If you have some spare time please visit this exhibition
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