The famous Terracotta Army of Emperor Qin
It was a nice sunny day, but still cold when we arrived at the outskirts of the site. We disembarked from our coach and climbed aboard an open sided vehicle which took us to the Museum of Terracotta Warriors and Horses. China’s terracotta army contained in the biggest on site Museum in China. There is a huge statue of Emperor Qin as you approach the complex. The complex is enormous and impresses with its construction and design layout.
The first stop the Circle Vision Hall located near the information center. The Circle Vision Hall provides a 20 minute film on the story of Emperor Qin and the terracotta army of 2,200 years ago. The Circle Vision Hall is an exciting visual experience in itself, and a very interesting and fascinating film to watch.
PIT 1: The Terracotta Army on display
Pit 1 – a huge arch-domed structure, at the center of the museum. Pit 1 seems an innocuous name for such an amazing archaeological discovery and exhibition.
This was the moment – when we stepped up to the safety railing at the top of Pit 1. I was speechless. Such an awesome sight! An amazing Terracotta Army of soldiers lined up row upon row, each with different features and hairstyle, wonderful workmanship and detail. Then the horses, beautiful round-bodied horses. It is truly amazing that a scheme of this magnitude could come to fruition, and even more amazing, that so much of the Terracotta Army is here for us to view today.
Discovery of the amazing terracotta army
The terracotta army discovered in March 1974. Two local farmers were drilling a water well when they came across large broken pottery pieces and reported their findings to the local authorities. This discovery took place 1.5 km east of the Mausoleum of Emperor Qin. It was the beginning of the most amazing archaeology discovery and excavation program of this century, and on-going since then.
To date the terracotta army numbers 7,000 warriors unearthed in Pit 1. They all seem to be infantry men. It is believed that the real soldiers may have served as models for the terracotta army, as no two soldiers are alike. They all seem to have individualized facial features.
The soldiers of the Terracotta Army are life-size. They vary in height, uniform and hairstyle according to rank. The high-ranking officers are taller in height as opposed to the soldiers and cavalrymen. Meticulous attention has been given to detail on items such as belt hooks, shoe ties and costumes. Originally most of the soldiers of the terracotta army carried combat weapons such as spears, swords, bows and arrows. Many of these combat weapons made from wood, unfortunately the wood disintegrated over time.
Construction of the pits for the terracotta army of Emperor Qin
Remaining on the walls of the clay pits which divide each row of terracotta soldiers, are heavily indented ridges from large timber bearings placed for the roof structure. The roof, then built up with fiber matting, earth fill and tilled earth to ground level.
Earth rammed partition walls constructed between each corridor of terracotta soldiers. Each corridor paved with bricks where the soldiers of the terracotta army are standing. Some pits are still being worked in, and many have broken clay body pieces of soldiers and horses still to be restored.
The three main pits unearthed so far are five to seven meters beneath the present ground level. The three pits all constructed in a similar way and cover an area of 22,000 square meters.
A railed walkway surrounds the entire pit, so you can see what is happening all over this huge area. At the far end of Pit No. 1 is an area where they are assembling more soldiers and horses of the terracotta army. When completed each piece placed back into the pit where it was originally found.
However, having said that, there has been thousands and thousands of hours spent by workmen re-assembling clay pieces of soldiers and their horses since the discovery, to give this wonderful display of the Terracotta Army. At least this army of workmen won’t have to be entombed alive after their work is finished, a fate decreed by Emperor Qin for the craftsmen who created this magnificent terracotta army during his reign. At that time, of course, this was to make sure the secrecy of the site of Emperor Qin’s mausoleum secure.