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Ancient China's Terracotta Army

Updated on August 7, 2011

One of the greatest archaeological finds of all time is the Terracotta Army of ancient China , discovered accidentally in 1974 , in Qin province , in China , when local farmers were digging for water , over 8,000 baked clay , or terracotta , figures have since been found .

Qin's army

It is now broken that Emperor Qin Shi Huang ordered this clay army to be built at the beginning of the third century BCE , Emperor Qin was one of the most important rulers in Chinese history . After becoming emperor of the state of Qin at the age of 13 , he conquered six other states over the next 25 years , and became the first emperor of a united China . One of his greatest achievements was the building of the first Great wall of China to protect China from its enemies , not all of his achievements were military , however , as he also introduced a common from of writing throughout the country . Nevertheless , outside China he is most famous for his terracotta army .

In Qin's time , the ancient Chinese believed that their afterlife was very similar to their life on earth . Consequently , when they died and were buried , objects which would be useful to them in the next life were buried with them . Emperor Qin was no different , he started the building of his own mausoleum , or burial place , in about 246 BCE . More than 700,000 workers and craftsmen took 38 years to complete the huge imperial palace , office , and halls , all surrounded by a wall . In addition , the emperor ordered an army to be built so that his palace would be protected

Building an army

Elsewhere in the ancient world , craftsmen concentrated on one piece of work at a time . In ancient China , however , they used a completely different method a huge production line was established to make the tens of thousands of individual human and animal statues which Emperor Qin demanded . All the different parts of the body sush as legs , arms , and heads were made separately and then assembled . The same process was also used for other pieces such as ears , beards , and armour . When the whole figure was completed , it was baked in a kiln , or oven .

The terracotta figures are life - like and life - sized . Each one has a different facial expression and hairstyle , as well as uniforms which indicate their job and rank . Amongst the figures there are ordinary soldiers , archers , and officers , together with chariots and horses . The were discovered arranged in military formation ready to protect the emperor in the afterlife.


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