Qin Shi Huang’s Tomb
In 1974, farmers digging a well came face to face with the ancient Chinese warrior, the mysterious Terracotta skull would prove to be the gateway to one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of all time: an army of terracotta warriors of Emperor Qin Shi Huang. The individualized faces and drapery and armor suggest that each one of these warriors was molded from the life of an individual separate human being. The precision and detail in the sculpting, the clay unmatched today, these warriors are a colossal achievement and some believe the greatest archaeological find of the 2oth century. Each statue stands between 5 feet 8 inches and 6 feet 2 inches tall, giants for the time. Some weighed up to 600 pounds but it was the terracotta itself that sent shockwaves through the team excavating the site.
The clay had a hardness beyond anything they had ever seen before indicating that the ancient artisans had developed a revolutionary new technology. Blast furnace fumes that fire the statue at temperatures up to 2,000 Fahrenheit. Archaeologists eventually uncovered three massive pits filled with a terracotta army guarding the first emperor’s tomb. One pit alone contains over 6,000 life-sized warriors and horses in battle formation. In the second pit, 1,300 statues who lead military forces including archers, chariots and cavalry were discovered. While the third pit with 68 figures and one chariot was the command center of the entire army even in death. During construction of the tomb, an army of workers excavated a gigantic pit measuring about 1600 x 1700 feet, equal to 580 basketball courts. When the sprawling tomb complex was complete, it was topped with a terraced mountain of earth, nearly 400 feet tall. At the time it may have been nearly as large as the great pyramid of Giza in Egypt. But over 2,000 years, the weather has worn down the original man-made mountain to about 250 feet.