The Terracotta Army in China is an archeological site like none other anywhere in the world. This site is beyond imagination and it is confusing why it isn't more well known in the world. It is a massive collection of terracotta sculptures of the armies of Qin Shi Huang - who was the first Emperor of China. In history, there are many examples of preparing the deceased emperor for the afterlife.

In ancient Egypt, the pyramids were built for the pharaoh along with his servants (who were also typically killed to service him in the afterlife). For Qin Shi Huang, he wanted his whole army. This massive terracotta army dates from before the Romans were the preeminent power in the Mediterranean. They are from 210-209 BC.


About The Terracotta Army

They were long forgotten about and are one of the 20th century's greatest archeological finds only being rediscovered in 1974 by local farmers.

  • Where: In Lintong County, Xi'an, Shaanxi, China
  • Date: 210-209 BC

The scale and age of this find can be described as stupendous. The figures are in incredible detail and have been constructed with their height according to their rank. The generals are taller than the common soldiers.

The figures are that of a complete army and include the Chinese warriors with their weapons and uniforms as well as their horses and chariots. There are three major fields and they are believed to contain over 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses, and then there are another 120 cavalry horses. Many of these are still buried and haven't been excavated. In addition to the actual soldiers, there are other support figures like strongmen, acrobats, officials, and musicians.

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  • Number Of Soldiers: 8,000 (Plus Chariots, Horses Etc.)

This part of China is dry and many of the sculptures have been very well preserved. This is the ancient Chinese tomb and museum counterpart to that of the Pharaohs of Egypt. It is mind-boggling that this entire army has been undisturbed for over 2,000 years. What is also amazing is the sheer detail of the army. These terracotta figures are complete with their armored vests, tunics, topknots, close-cropped beards, and even their bearded goatees. These statues are made to resemble real-life soldiers.

Some of these terracotta figures go so far as being in battle formation. Today around 1,900 of the 7 or 8 thousand of these soldiers have been excavated.

About The Emperor

The first emperor of China for whom these were built was a military emperor. He was able to conquer China with his army and so it is reasonable to see who he could have viewed his army as the source of his security. He was notable for other things too than just conquering China, he was an apt administrator, standardized weights and measures, as well as introduced a uniform writing script.

  • Date: From China Being Unified Over 2,000 Years Ago
  • Archeology: One Of The Great Archeological Finds

Once people thought this site was just the emperor's soldiers going with him into the afterlife, but as excavations have progressed it has become apparent that there was a lot more to it. Its sculptures include officials and other administrative aspects. So one could say that when the emperor died he took his whole political system with him.

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  • Number Of Workers: 720,000 Worker Reportedly Worked On The Emperor's Projects
  • Number Of Palaces: Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi Reportedly Made 270 Palaces Across The Empire

Visiting The Site

The terracotta army is also located on the site where the emperor's capital of Xianyang once stood (Beijing has not always been China's capital city). This is a place that is freezing cold in the winter and scorching hot in the summer - the tourist can choose their poison (or just come in the spring or autumn).

Related: 20 Little-Known Things About The Great Wall Of China

Today some 600 pits have been located and a complex of various underground vaults has been discovered. They are still largely unexcavated. The three major pits are easy to get to but many of the others are hard to reach. These three pits have been enclosed in a large four-acre-sized Museum of the Terracotta Army. In one of these pits, the broken statues have been resembled and placed back together to look as they once did, while in another pit they remain broken, toppled, buried to their soldiers in soil, and shown as they once were.

It is impossible to do a site like the Terracotta Warriors any justice in a short article like this. It just goes to show there is often more to a place than what meets the eye - what's underneath?

Related: 20 Thoughts Every Foreigner Has When They Visit China For The First Time