The lucky find for archaeologists and scientists

The terracotta warriors were an extremely lucky find. There are approximately 8,000 of them made of clay located 40 kilometres to the east of Xi’an. They were created by over 700,000 labourers who took approximately 40 years to complete under the first emperor, Qin Shi Huang Di’s orders.

Not just soldiers, but figures, horses and chariots made of clay laid there in trenchlike, underground corridors until they were discovered accidentally by local farmers while digging a well in 1974. Since then, excavations have revealed weapons, pits, statues, mass graves and more in parts of a grand funerary complex. The life-size terracotta warriors (an average of 2.84 metres tall) have detailed carvings created by hand: from their unique facial expressions to the intricate design on the soles of their shoes.

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The head, limbs and body are hollow, made separately and painted with bright colours. Overall, they were an extremely lucky find for archaeologists and scientists because of the many clues about the era of the First Emperor. The discovery of the terracotta warriors revealed a great many things to us. Experts believe that they were created to accompany, protect and entertain Qin Shi Huang Di for eternity because he believed that objects could be animated in the afterlife. Even though Emperor Qin did a great many things for China, not everyone willingly accepted the way he used his power. Three unsuccessful assassination attempts on his life bred his intense fear of death. All kinds of precautions – such as pills and potions to sustain his current life – were taken, and if those tactics failed, Emperor Qin made thousands of his many subjects sculpt an impenetrable army with weapons to serve him in the afterlife.

The fortunate discovery of the statues revealed things we did not know about the Qin Empire’s arts, culture, military and technology. According to China Highlights, “It is the largest find of its kind and part of the world’s largest ancient imperial tomb complex, making it one of the top archaeological finds of the 20th century”. Although new, radical theories are being generated by the terracotta warriors, scientist and archaeologists have yet to prove them.


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