China’s legendary terracotta army still growing!

September 17, 2012

Like so many zombies or Mummies in horror movie flicks, it seems Emperor Qinshihuang’s terracotta army just keeps on coming! As last week Chinese archeologists unearthed more than 100 additional soldiers, bringing total number of clay warriors found at Xi’an mausoleum to more than 8,000.   

The Terracotta Army, otherwise known as the “Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses” first came to light when they were discovered on March 29, 1974 by a group of well digging farmers. They are believed to be sculptural depictions of the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of unified China, assembled to ensure his passage and continual protection in the afterlife.

The Terracotta army were created by a series of mix-and-match clay molds and then individualized by an artists’ hand. It is interesting to note that, despite the famous image of rows upon rows of identical soldiers, there is actually a great amount of variation between the warriors. For one, the Terracotta army doesn’t just contain generic warriors, the figures actually vary in height according to their roles, with the tallest being the generals. The figures also include warriors, chariots and horses. Current estimates are that in the three pits containing the Terracotta Army there are over 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, the majority of which are still buried in the pits near by Qin Shi Huang’s mausoleum. Even non-military Terracotta figures such as officials, acrobats, strongmen and musicians form part of the Terracotta army. The tallest warrior is a headless figure standing at 2.2 metres tall, which experts believe would have measured 2.5 metres with its head! It’s a wonder to think what rank or position such a giant would represent.

Some of the newly found warriors are also in unbelievably condition, still containing remants of colour and delicately detailed armour, with warriors even still baring black and taupe eyeballs with eyelashes painted on.

This all says a lot about Emperor Qin Shi Huang, a revolutionary figure in Chinese history who ushered in two millennia of imperial rule and unified various sections of the Great Wall, who not only wanted an army to command but a whole array of people to rule over in the afterlife! During his early rule he commissioned construction of the infamously massive emperor’s mausoleum (alleged to have taken 700,000 men to complete!) to act as his final resting place and home to his eternal army.

If you signed up to our Great Wall Discovery Challenge, an amazing challenge that takes you on a journey through Steep staircases and crumbling watchtowers of Imperial China’s frontline defence, then you can sign up to either our Terracotta Warriors Extension (cost £445) or our  Warriors & Pandas Extension (cost £699) to see the Terracotta warriors with your own eyes. The warriors represent a slice of Chinese history and a legendary empire!  So make sure you take the chance to pay homage to the warriors before even more of them show up and their world domination campaign begins!

You can find out more information about all our challenges on our website at To keep up to date on all our challenge news, please subscribe to this blog. You can also enter your email address into the adjacent box to subscribe to our mailing list.

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  • Reply REBECCA CLEVERLEY July 11, 2014 at 8:22 am


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