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Terracotta Army Emperor Qin Shi Huang

Updated on January 15, 2015
Terracotta Army
Terracotta Army


In 1974,peasants digging for well-water found parts of a terracotta warrior underground.Later digs unearthed many pits around a main tomb,and an enormous number of terracotta soldiers.These had been hidden for over 2000 years.The peasants had found the First Emperor`s tomb,now covered by earth and looking like a medium-sized hill among green fields.Recent archeological work shows that the entire tomb complex may be as big as a small town.

Museum,Cavalrymen,soldiers,The Terracotta Army

In the museum,you`ll see row after row of life-sized warriors lined up neatly,ready to do battle on behalf of their master in his afterlife.There are cavalrymen(soldiers on horseback),as well as charioteers standing at attention beside their chariots,holding the reins of their horses.One archer is on one knee,poised to shoot his arrow.You can even see the pattern on the sole of his shoe!

The cavalrymen wear caps with chinstraps,while the officers and charioteers have on more ornate headgear.Their long hair is neatly plaited,pulled on top of the head and tied.Their double-thickness tunics are belted at the waist,with a thick roll of fabric around the neck to prevent chafing from their leather armour.Below the knee,they wear leggings and square-toed shoes.

The average height of these soldiers is 178 centimetres(5 feet 10 inches).Each soldiers has a different face.Archeologists think they were modelled on actual soldiers of the First Emperor`s imperial guard.

The terracotta army is in one of the smaller tombs.Besides warriors,some of the pits contain life-size clay acrobats,bureaucrats and musicians.But what`s in the big one,the Emperor`s tomb?

The First Emperor

Yng Zgeng inherited the throne at the age of fourteen in 246 BCE.His regent and prime minister,Lü Buwei,a former merchant,led the government,planning and executing a series of wars in which Qin took more and more territory from its neighbors.

In 240BCE king Zheng turned twenty and took control of his kingdom.Lü Buwei and his supporters were shunted aside,Lü committing suicide in 235 BCE.King Zheng appointed a man from Lü`s staff to the post of chancellor:Li Si.

Li Si and King Zheng created a unified realm bearing many characteristics that later dynastic states inherited:a centralized bureaucracy,led by a hereditary emperor,covering a territory roughly equivalent to China proper and ocasionally expanding into various parts of the Inner Asian periphery.Under their leadership,the remaining states of the Eastern Zhou world fell,one after the other:Han in 230 BC,Zhao in 228 BC,Wei in 225 BC,Chu in 223 BC,Yan in 222BC and Qi in 221 BC.In recognition of the significance of unification,King Zheng devised a new title that would reflect his status as a ruler more powerful than a mere king:Huangdi,emperor.He would be the First Emperor of Qin,Qin Shi Huangdi,with his successors as Second,third,and so on for ten thousand generations.

Unfortunately for him and for those who really like this Emperor,that would never happen...


The Eternal Army: The Terracotta Soldiers of the First Emperor
The Eternal Army: The Terracotta Soldiers of the First Emperor

More than 22 centuries ago, in China's northwestern Shaanxi province, the first Qin emperor was buried in a magnificent tomb surrounded by an army of some 7,000 terra-cotta soldiers. This lavish volume offers a detailed look at that astonishing army, and the life and times of the man whose resting place it guards. Combining photographs taken expressly for the book with essays by leading experts, this is both a profile of a legendary figure and an unprecedented view of a spectacular archaeological site.

Terracotta Army
Terracotta Army

This main tomb has never been opened,but there are stories about it in a book called "Historical Record",written 2100 years ago by Sima Qian.According to Historical Record,there is a huge bronze map of China iside the tomb.It shows the two main rivers of China(Yellow River and the Yangzi River)and on the banks of the rivers are toy carriages and mini palaces.The rivers were filled with mercury,to repredent water.There are many other fabulous treasures:

  • flocks of animals carved in silver or gold
  • plates,lamps and furniture made of jade
  • coins
  • all kind of musical instruments
  • boxes made of smooth red and black lacquer
  • books written on bamboo and silk
  • weapons such as swords,lances,halberds,crossbows and arrows

Sima Qian (c. 145 or 135 – 86 BC),was a Chinese historian of the Han dynasty. He is considered the father of Chinese historiography for his work, the Records of the Grand Historian, a Jizhuanti-style (纪传体) general history of China, covering more than two thousand years from the Yellow Emperor to his time, during the reign of Emperor Wu of Han.

At the age of twenty, Sima Qian started a journey throughout the country, visiting ancient monuments, and sought for the graves of the ancient sage kings Yu on Mount Kuaiji and Shun in Hunan.Places he visited include Shandong, Yunnan, Hebei, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, and Hunan.After his travels, Sima was chosen to be a Palace Attendant in the government, whose duties were to inspect different parts of the country with Emperor Wu.In 110 BC, at the age of thirty-five, Sima Qian was sent westward on a military expedition against some "barbarian" tribes.

Although he worked as the Court Astrologer,later generations refer to him as the Grand Historian for his monumental work; a work which in later generations would often only be somewhat tacitly or glancingly acknowledged as an achievement only made possible by his acceptance and endurance of punitive actions against him, including imprisonment, castration, and subjection to servility.

Above the map,says Sima Qian,there is a huge copper dome showing the sky at night,with the moon and stars traced out in precious jewels.

But why has no one seen the tomb since the Emperor died?One reason is that the whole place is rigged with crossbows,arrows and other dangerous weapons!

First Emperor was buried by his son,the Second Emperor.Second Emperor ordered that all the craftsmen who had installed weapons to protect his father`s body must be buried alive in the tomb,so they could never reveal how the booby traps had been set.He also buried alive all of his father`s concubines(secondary wives) who had not borne any children.Luckily this excluded his own mother.


Secrets of the Dead: China's Terracotta Warrior
Secrets of the Dead: China's Terracotta Warrior

The extraordinary story of China s 8,000 terracotta warriors begins two centuries before the birth of Christ. The First Emperor of China was preparing an extravagant tomb for his journey into the afterlife and decreed that he be protected forever by a monumental army. Since then no one has seen these ancient warriors in their original splendor, brightly painted and fully armed, ready to protect their Emperor for all eternity. Now this once mighty army will be returned to its former glory for the first time. Row upon row of life-size, lavishly painted warriors will rise from the dust of two millennia. But how was a terracotta army of this size made in less than two years using the technology of 2200 years ago? Led by archaeologist Agnes Hsu, SECRETS OF THE DEAD shows that the Chinese may have Henry Ford beat by more than 2,000 years with their own assembly line used to produce the 8,000-strong Ghost Army.


Terracotta Army

Terracotta Army

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The Emperor's Silent Army: Terracotta Warriors of Ancient China
The Emperor's Silent Army: Terracotta Warriors of Ancient China

Describes the archaeological discovery of thousands of life-sized terracotta warrior statues in northern China in 1974, and discusses the emperor who had them created and placed near his tomb.



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    • Josh Alber profile image

      Josh Alber 

      4 years ago

      It's pretty great, really. I once went to a museum in China. The layout was pretty amazing with armies (false) deployed in formations. It is really one breathtaking sight.


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