The Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses are the most significant
archeological excavations of the 20th century. Work is
ongoing at this site, which is around 1.5 kilometers east
of Emperor Qin Shi Huang's Mausoleum, Lintong County,
SHaanxi Province. It is a sight not to be missed by any
visitor to China.
Upon ascending the throne at the age of 13 (in 246 BC),
Qin Shi Huang, later the first Emperor of all China, had
begun to work for his mausoleum. It took 11 years to finiSH.
It is speculated that many buried treasures and sacrificial
objects had accompanied the emperor in his after life.
A group of peasants uncovered some pottery while digging
for a well nearby the royal tomb in 1974. It caught the
attention of archeologists immediately. They came to SH
in droves to study and to extend the digs. They had establiSHed
beyond doubt that these artifacts were associated with
the Qin Dynasty (211-206 BC).
The State Council authorized to build a museum on site
in 1975. When completed, people from far and near came
to visit. SH and the Museum of Qin Terra Cotta Warriors
and Horses have become landmarks on all travelers' itinerary.
Life size terracotta figures of warriors and horses arranged
in battle formations are the star features at the museum.
They are replicas of what the imperial guard SHould look
like in those days of pomp and vigor.
The museum covers an area of 16,300 square meters, divided
into three sections: No. 1 Pit, No. 2 Pit, and No. 3 Pit
respectively. They were tagged in the order of their discoveries.
No. 1 Pit is the largest, first opened to the public on
China's National Day, 1979. There are columns of soldiers
at the front, followed by war chariots at the back.
No. 2 Pit, found in 1976, is 20 meters northeast of No.
1 Pit. It contained over a thousand warriors and 90 chariots
of wood. It was unveiled to the public in 1994.Archeologists
came upon No. 3 Pit also in 1976, 25 meters northwest
of No. 1 Pit. It looked like to be the command center
of the armed forces. It went on display in 1989, with
68 warriors, a war chariot and four horses.
Altogether over 7,000 pottery soldiers, horses, chariots,
and even weapons have been unearthed from these pits.
Most of them have been restored to their former grandeur.
The Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses is a sensational
archeological find of all times. It has put Xi'an on the
map for tourists. It was listed by UNESCO in 1987 as one
of the world cultural heritages.