The Chinese Terracotta Warriors, also known as the Terracotta Army, come from the most significant archaeological excavation of the 20th century, and one of the most sensational archaeological finds of all time. The Warriors represent a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies from the era of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China.
It is a sight not to be missed by any visitor to China. The entire army of sculptures was buried with the emperor in 210-209 B.C. to protect the emperor in the afterlife.
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The warrior statues, including chariots and horses, vary in height according to their roles, with the tallest being generals. Current estimates put the number of sculptures in the Terra Cotta Army at over 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses, and 150 cavalry horses — the majority of which still remain buried to protect their integrity.
Other terracotta non-military figures have also been unearthed at the site, including officials, acrobats, strongmen, and musicians. The entire Terracotta Army is believed to have taken 11 years to finish.
Terracotta Warriors discovered by farmers in 1974
The army of statues, dating from the 3rd century B.C., was discovered in 1974 by a group of local farmers when digging for a well in Lintong District, Xi’an, Shanxi Province in Central China, near the mausoleum of the First Qin emperor.
It caught the attention of archaeologists, who immediately went to Xi’an to study and extend the digs. For centuries, there had been occasional reports of pieces of terracotta figures and fragments of the Qin necropolis — roofing tiles and chunks of masonry — uncovered in the area.
The archaeologists established beyond doubt that these artifacts were associated with the Qin Dynasty. These discoveries led to the unearthing of the largest pottery figurine group ever found.
The Terracotta Warriors and horses are high on the destination lists for tourists visiting China. The area was listed by UNESCO in 1987 as a World Cultural Heritage area, and a museum built in 1975 marks the site, attracting visitors and sightseers from far and wide.