China plans to reveal more terra cotta warriors
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China is expanding the ranks of the famed Terra Cotta Warrior army. There are new excavations. These are expected to yield hundreds more of the ancient life-size figures.
The museum overseeing the vast mausoleum of China's first emperor says it began work March 30. The work is on the tomb's No. 2 pit. It is smaller in scale than No. 1. But, it is believed to be richer in archaeological value than the first excavated pit.
The pit is believed to contain 1,400 warrior and horse statues. It is also thought to contain 89 war chariots and 116 mounted soldiers. They offer invaluable insights into the military culture of the Qin dynasty. That is according to the museum website.
"The No. 2 pit contains the true essence of the Terra Cotta army," the museum's former curator was quoted as saying.
The Terra Cotta army was discovered in 1974. It has become one of China's biggest tourist draws. It attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. The warriors have joined the giant panda as a tool of Chinese "soft power." Several batches are being exhibited overseas. They have drawn enthusiastic crowds.
The army was built to guard the tomb of the first Qin emperor. His name was Qin Shi Huang. He died in 210 A.D. During his lifetime, he conquered much of what is now modern China.
In all, the tomb contains three pits. They are thought to hold more than 8,000 figures. Archers, infantry soldiers, mounted cavalry, horse-drawn chariots, officers, acrobats, musicians and others are included.
The third pit is adjacent to the emperor's sprawling mausoleum. It lies under a 250-foot mound. It remains un-excavated. Experts are trying to decide whether to excavate this pit.
Ancient accounts tell of a huge complex of chambers. Included are underground rivers. They were filled with flowing mercury. There are also the remains of craftsmen and imperial concubines. They were sealed alive in the tomb with the dead emperor.
The Terra Cotta statues weigh about 400 pounds each. They range in height from 6 feet to 6 feet 5 inches. The height depends on the warriors rank. Generals are the tallest.
The statues originally were brightly painted. They are intricately detailed. Armor, top knots, weapons and boots were included. No two figures are alike. Craftsmen are believed to have modeled them after a real army.
Qin was a ruthless figure of fear and awe in Chinese history. He built an extensive system of roads and canals. They were built along with an early incarnation of the Great Wall of China. He unified measurements. He also established a single written language, currency and legal statutes.
Critical thinking challenge: Why is the army made of terra cotta?