The Terracotta Army was discovered on 29 March 1974 when farmer Yang Zhifa uncovered fragments of pottery while digging for water. It is often called the Eighth Wonder of the Ancient World.
“Archaeology holds all the keys to understanding who we are and where we come from.” Sarah Parcak
Sima Qian (a hereditary historian of the Han Dynasty) informs us that a year after his ascension to the throne in 246 BC, 13-year-old Ying Zheng (future Qin Shi Huangdi) began to build his tomb.
According to his plan, the statues were supposed to accompany him after his death, and probably give him the opportunity to satisfy his power ambitions in the other world, just as he did in his lifetime. The construction of the mausoleum required the efforts of more than 700,000 workers and artisans and lasted 38 years. The perimeter of the outer wall of the burial is 6 km.
Although instead of living warriors, clay copies were buried with the Emperor, up to 70,000 workers along with their families were also buried, according to various estimates.
Specialists from China established that most of the figures, as well as horses and chariots, were made of clay. Each human statue weighs about 130 kg.
Scientists are still puzzled over the method these statues were made. It is definitely clear that initially some form was given to the figures, and then they were baked. However, the archaeologists have not found a single kiln for firing clay nearby. At that time people still did not have highly developed technologies necessary for making such sculptures. In addition, each of the life-sized statues is covered with a special glaze and paint.
There is another, no less interesting mystery: why, after more than 2,000 years, the weapons of the statues not only did not fade but even did not blunt? The examination showed that all metal objects contain chrome. How could it be there, if people only learned to work it in the early 20th century?
Some of the most striking findings associated with the Terracotta Army are the bronze chariots found next to the Mausoleum. They are harnessed with four beautiful horses, which, obviously, were meant for horse trips of the emperor in the afterlife. Each of these chariots represents a real work of art and is made of more than 3000 elements. You can see the drawings of a phoenix bird, a dragon and a tiger there.
The archaeological dig of the Terracotta Army hasn’t been utterly stopped yet, because the Chinese authorities do everything to preserve the heritage of their ancestors. However, at the official level, they are not being conducted at the moment. The reason for the suspension of archaeological research is that according to the legend, rivers of mercury accompany the emperor in the underworld. Whether that’s true or not, researchers have decided to further inspect the site, so as not to encounter any troubles in the future.
The latest archaeological findings revealed thousands of animal-related relics in the mausoleum. The foremost-unearthed animal here is a horse. However, other animals, including birds and beasts, are also present. They include deer, figures of cranes and also the bones of turtles and fish.
Obviously, many interesting and amazing artifacts remain hidden beneath the ground. Therefore, more new and surprising discoveries from the Terracotta Army site are yet to come.