The Terracotta Army or the "Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses", is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Shi Huangdi, the First Emperor of China.
The figures, dating from 210 BC, were discovered in 1974 by some local farmers in Lintong District, Xi'an, Shaanxi province, near the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor.
The figures vary in height, according to their roles, with the tallest being the generals. The figures include warriors, chariots, horses, officials, acrobats, strongmen and musicians. Current estimates are that in the three pits containing the Terracotta Army there were over 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, the majority of which are still buried in the pits.
According to historian Sima Qian (145-90 BC), construction of this mausoleum began in 246 BC and involved 700,000 workers. Geographer Li Daoyuan, six centuries after the death of the First Emperor, explained that Mount Li had been chosen as a site for its auspicious geology: it once had a gold mine on its north face and a jade mine on its south face, demonstrating not only its sacred value, but also perhaps how the tunnels had come to be dug in the first place. Qin Shi Huang was 13 when construction began. He specifically stated that no two soldiers were to be made alike, which is most likely why he had construction started at that young age. Sima Qian, in his most famous work, Shiji, completed a century after the mausoleum completion, wrote that the First Emperor was buried with palaces, scenic towers, officials, valuable utensils and "wonderful objects," with 100 rivers fashioned in mercury and above this heavenly bodies below which he wrote were "the features of the earth." Some translations of this passage refer to "models" or "imitations," but he does not use those words.
The four pits associated with the dig are about 1.5 km east of the burial ground and are about 7 metres deep. The outside walls of the tomb complex are as if placed there to protect the tomb from the east, where all the conquered states lay. They are solidly built with rammed earth walls and ground layers as hard as concrete. In addition to delineating the site, these served to protect the ground beneath the site from springs in the area, as also mentioned in the Shiji. Pit one, 230 metres long, contains the main army, estimated at 8,000 figures. Pit one has 11 corridors, most of which are over 3 metres wide, and paved with small bricks with a wooden ceiling supported by large beams and posts. This design was also used for the tombs of noblemen and would have resembled palace hallways. The wooden ceilings were covered with reed mats and layers of clay for waterproofing, and then mounded with more soil making them, when built, about 2 to 3 metres higher than ground level. Pit two has cavalry and infantry units as well as war chariots and is thought to represent a military guard. Pit three is the command post, with high ranking officers and a war chariot. Pit four is empty, seemingly left unfinished by its builders.
The Mighty Imperial Army
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