Back in 1974, a Chinese farmer digging a well was terrified by what he unearthed. At first, he thought he had dug up a body. Actually, he uncovered one of the most important architectural findings of the 20th Century: the Terracotta Warriors.
The Terracotta Warriors are life size statues commissioned by the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang back in the Third Century BC. Apparently the Emperor believed in life after death. So these statues would be there to protect him and also provide him with subjects to rule over. It’s not clear how he expected inanimate objects to suddenly be given life. The Emperors body was real; these figures were clay. Regardless of the Emperors’ post mortem hopes, the size of this project is impressive,
Of course an Emperor expects the same standard of luxury for his afterlife .So the tomb Qin Shi Huang erected was pretty much a scale model of the palace and his surrounding kingdom. The location has significance because in this area were underground deposits of gold and jade-precious metals worthy of an Emperor.. The tomb and its surrounding guards was the size of the Borough of Manhattan , where New York City is located. This subterranean city was enclosed in a giant mound.
About 700,000 workers from every province of the empire were involved in the project which lasted close to 40 years. The Emperor must have figured it would take some time because the work started when he ascended to the throne at the age of 13. So it was ready when he died. Its treasures were safeguarded by automatically triggered weapons designed to thwart tomb robbers.
After Qin Shi Huang’s death, there was a concern that the principal workers might betray the secret location of the complex to enemies. So the craftsmens’ reward for their hard work was to be sealed inside the complex alive! That definitely gives new meaning to the phrase a” job for life!
In the Emperor’s complex, archeologists believe the total amount of warriors might be close to 8,000 l . Besides the soldiers, there are also chariots and horses. Some 700,000 Chinese were involved in this project which took over 36 years to complete. Each figure has its own individual characteristics as precise as facial features and hairstyles they .Craftsmen apparently used real life models in their work and the attention to detail even included things like belt hooks and shoe ties. The uniforms they wear represent their post and rank in the army.
Most of them originally held authentic weapons such as swords, spears, or crossbows. The figurines are in various postures including standing infantry and kneeling archers as well as charioteers with horses. Their posture is usually related to the weapon they hold.
Some of the weapons can still be found but others were looted as time went by. In fact there were a number of peasant uprisings when the Emperors tomb was pillaged, burned, and the statutes wrecked. Historians say that’s why you can find burn marks in the tom. Now workers carefully put all the pieces together. In fact there’s a work area here some call the “ hospital’ where loose joints are reconnected to their warrior.
The Terra Cotta Warriors are located in Xi-an, Shaanxi Province in the central part of China. It used to be a quiet farming community. Now it’s alive with activity as it welcomes over 2 million Chinese and foreign visitors every year.
Three football stadium sized buildings house the excavation areas open to the public. Just like tourist attractions all over the world, Chinese vendors try to capitalize on the main attraction. So you can have your picture taken standing behind a terra cotta suit of armor or alongside some replica statues. There are all sorts of warrior inspired memorabilia. A popular one is a box of several small metallic replicas. When the tour buses arrive, the sellers swarm the visitors. The prices are definitely “let’s make a deal’. That common box of soldiers started out at $220 yuan and eventually dropped dramatically. The true selling price (what you would pay in a store) is actually about 15 yuan or about $2.50 In American money.
UNESCO named the Terracotta Warriors a “World Cultural Heritage Site”. Travel expert Howard Hilman classifies it as one of the 100 Natural Wonders of the World to see before you die. I definitely agree with both honors. It’s a spectacular site
What happened to the farmer who discovered the Terracotta Warriors? He’s still alive. In fact, the Chinese government gave him a job at the museum where his farm used to be! If you buy a copy of the book about the attraction for $150 yuan ($25 American dollars), he’ll sign it for you.
You can watch an interesting documentary about the Terracotta Warriors on youtube.com. It’s entitled” China’s Ghost Army: the Terracotta Army.