The terracotta army is maybe the most extraordinary discovery of the 20th century. While digging for a well, a group of Chinese farmers found a few ancient bronze weapons and pieces of broken terracotta. This was the beginning of a great discovery, which would reveal an entire underground city, guarded by terracotta soldiers and horses.
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The terracotta army, also known as “The Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses”, consists of a collection of sculptures representing the armies of the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang. He is also the one who started building the Great Wall of China.
This army was buried with him and was supposed to protect the emperor in his afterlife.
The figures are set in battle formation and include infantry, cavalry and charioteers.
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This army was meant to guard emperor Qin Shi Huang’s underground world from attack. Because the warriors are life-sized, legends soon began to emerge. One legend says that they were once real people, who were killed and buried by Qin Shi Huang in order to defend him in the afterlife.
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The tomb guarded by the terracotta army is an entire necropolis, featuring several offices, stables, halls, and other structures. It can even be considered a microcosm of Qin Shi Huang’s imperial palace. The underground city is also believed to have another hidden area with a mercury river and a ceiling covered with diamonds that look like stars.
All this complex was buried beneath a large earth pyramid. But it went unnoticed for 2000 years, because of its small height. People assumed it was just a hill and didn’t pay much attention to it.
The burial site is very complex, including not only the earth pyramid, but also several pits with groups of soldiers, chariots and acrobats all around it:
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Building the terracotta army
The terracotta army figures were built separately in various workshops, and then assembled. The heads, torsos, arms and legs were each manufactured into a specific workshop, fired separately and finally assembled and set in formation. For the faces, 8 different molds are believed to have been used. After molding, specific facial features and hair were added to individualize each soldier.
The most amazing thing about these warriors is that they are life-sized. And they have different armor and real arms. Being arranged in war formation, they give the impression of a freeze frame taken from a historical movie.
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You cannot know over what riches or historical artifacts you are stepping every day. Nor what lies beneath the hill you see from your window, isn’t it? But what would you do if you were one of those farmers who discovered the first parts of the terracotta army?
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