Saturday, 10 January 2015

terracotta army

The Terracotta Army or the "Terracotta Warriors and Horses" is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. It is a form of funerary art buried with the emperor in 210–209 BCE and whose purpose was to protect the emperor in his afterlife.
The figures, dating from approximately the late third century BCE, were discovered in 1974 by local farmers in Lintong District,Xi'an, Shaanxi province. The figures vary in height according to their roles, with the tallest being the generals. The figures include warriors, chariots and horses. Estimates from 2007 were that the three pits containing the Terracotta Army held more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, the majority of which remained buried in the pits nearby Qin Shi Huang's mausoleum Other terracotta non-military figures were found in other pits, including officials, acrobats, strongmen and musicians.

In 1974 the most important archaeological discovery in the world took place when more than 8000 life-size clay warriors were uncovered in Xi’an, China. The clay army lies in the greatest mausoleum in the world, and archaeologists assert that it was meant to protect Emperor Qin Shi Huang in his journey after death. Each soldier was created with unique characteristics and was placed according to rank. Horses, weapons and other objects were also discovered. Qin Shi Huang was the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty. He became King at the age of 12 and lived in the 2nd century BCE. According to historical records, he had an army of one million professional soldiers built, and was the one who initiated construction of the Great Wall of China. Huang’s Mausoleum was a copy of his kingdom—which according to the records took 37 years and more than 720,000 people to construct—so that he could maintain his empire after death. The outer wall is about 2km x 1km and the Necropolis consists of buildings, cemeteries and stables, and there are four different pits in which the 8,000 warriors stand in rows. The tomb of the King has been located and is likened to an underground palace though it is yet to be excavated. According to historian Siam Qian, the tomb hides great treasures such as vessels, precious stones and treasures. Characteristically, Qian mentions: "Since antiquity, no one has ever been buried in such a luxurious manner as Emperor Qin Shihuang."

1. Preservation Power Archaeologists have unearthed roughly 40,000 bronze weapons from the terra-cotta pits. From spears to battle axes, crossbows to arrowheads, these exquisitely made pieces have been preserved with the help of a protective chromium coating. Though both the Germans and Americans invented this chrome-plating technology in 1937 and ’50, respectively, it existed in China 2,200 years ago.

2. Thinking Big When Emperor Qin Shi Huang was just 13 years old, work began on his extravagant tomb. According to Chinese historian Sima Qian’s account, Records of the Grand Historian, more than 700,000 men took 36 years to build the grave. It was one of the Emperor’s great accomplishments, but he is also known for his political and cultural feats: Qin implemented a standard written script, joined the states with canals and roads, unified warring states, considerably advanced metallurgy, standardized weights and measures, built the first version of the Great Wall and then later connected tactical parts of the Great Wall.

3. A Cruel King Though he advanced the empire considerably, Qin was also infamous for his brutishness. Hundred of skeletons have been uncovered in the tomb, many of them believed to be artisans and workers who helped build the grave. According to Sima, these laborers were put to death to preserve secrecy of the location and its treasures: “After the burial and sealing up of the treasures, the middle gate was shut and the outer gate closed to imprison all the artisans and laborers, so that not one came out. Trees and grass were planted over the mausoleum to make it seem like a hill,” he wrote.

4. Bad Medicine Emperor Qin feared death and is said to have searched frantically for medicine, potions, concoctions — anything that promised everlasting vitality. Allegedly, he sent 8,000 people, including his royal herbalists, to find him a magical elixir. While he awaited a tonic, Qin turned to mercury tablets. As it turns out, the habit is said to have contributed to his death at age 50.

5. Mystery Map Though Qin’s tomb has not been excavated, legend has it that artisans carved a map of the Qin kingdom on the floor. Replicas of palaces, pavilions, as well as booby traps (artisans rigged crossbows to shoot trespassers) are said to fill the grave, while jewels represent the sky, and rivers of quicksilver represent the kingdom’s waters. Modern investigations have been able to corroborate this legend with some chemical evidence. In 2005 a research team led by Chinese archaeologist Duan Chingbo took 4,000 samples from the earthen mound to test for mercury, and all the samples came back highly positive.

The Emperor made sure that his tomb would be booby-trapped so that robbers wouldn’t be able to access it. It is mentioned that he used poisonous arrows that are automatically triggered, mercury, and other traps that could bring death upon any intruder. The secrets of the tomb are not known since most of the people that worked at building the Emperor’s tomb were killed; however, probes that have been sent into the tomb have verified an unusually high concentration of mercury exists, possibly supporting Qian’s theory. Recently, The University of Xi’an Jiaotong discovered that the tombs of the Han dynasty are embedded with astronomical information. Specifically, the murals on the upper part symbolize the sun, moon and the stars, while the lower part represents mountains and rivers. Now let’s connect Chinese mythology to the story of the Emperor. A Chinese dragon was said to consist of nine different parts, all resembling different animals: the head of a camel, the scales of a fish, the horns of a deer, the eyes of a rabbit, the ears of a bull, the neck of a snake, the belly of a clam, the paws of a tiger, and the claws of an eagle. 

According to this mythology, dragons were divine monsters, both wise and strong, that were involved in the creation of the world. Dragons were not considered to be evil creatures—this is something that was introduced later on by Christianity’s attempt to twist opposing myths and legends. In fact, the Chinese claim that dragons were present with humans in the beginning, helping humans evolve. They were respected and considered to be good fortune, and were advisors of the kings because of their great wisdom. They had the ability to change shape, size, and become invisible among many other abilities, like controlling the rain, the weather, and many other external aspects of their everyday life. It is said that the first mythological emperor (Fu Xi) of China had a dragon tail, and his successor is said to have been fathered by a dragon. If we compare these stories to that of other myths around the world, we will see the similarities with the first emperors, who were related to the ‘gods’ and ‘creators’ of humanity, the only difference being that the gods in Chinese mythology who gave the kings authority are depicted as dragons. Since the emperors of China were related to these gods, is it possible for the Emperor Qin Shi Huang to also be? There are still many relics to be found since most of the area is still unexplored, and archaeologists believe what has been found comprises only a tiny fraction of what is there. Unfortunately, excavations of the tomb have currently been stalled by the Chinese government.
The Terracotta Army is one of the top attractions in China. It is significant because the hundreds of detailed life-size models represent the army that triumphed over all other Chinese armies and who were the decisive factor in forming a united China 2,200 years ago.
It is considered one of the greatest archaeological sites in the world, and one of thegreatest discoveries of the 20th century. In 1987 the Tomb of the First Emperor, including the Terracotta Army, became World Cultural Heritage.
Workers digging a well outside the city of Xi'an, China, in 1974 struck upon one of the greatest archaeological discoveries in the world: a life-size clay soldier poised for battle.
he diggers notified Chinese authorities, who dispatched government archaeologists to the site.
They found not one, but thousands of clay soldiers, each with unique facial expressions and positioned according to rank. And though largely gray today, patches of paint hint at once brightly colored clothes. Further excavations have revealed swords, arrow tips, and other weapons, many in pristine condition.

The soldiers are in trenchlike, underground corridors. In some of the corridors, clay horses are aligned four abreast; behind them are wooden chariots.
The terra-cotta army, as it is known, is part of an elaborate mausoleum created to accompany the first emperor of China into the afterlife, according to archaeologists.
Young Emperor

Ying Zheng took the throne in 246 B.C. at the age of 13. By 221 B.C. he had unified a collection of warring kingdoms and took the name of Qin Shi Huang Di—the First Emperor of Qin.
During his rule, Qin standardized coins, weights, and measures; interlinked the states with canals and roads; and is credited for building the first version of the Great Wall.
According to writings of court historian Siam Qian during the following Han dynasty, Qin ordered the mausoleum's construction shortly after taking the throne. More than 700,000 laborers worked on the project, which was halted in 209 B.C. amid uprisings a year after Qin's death.
To date, four pits have been partially excavated. Three are filled with the terra-cotta soldiers, horse-drawn chariots, and weapons. The fourth pit is empty, a testament to the original unfinished construction.
Archaeologists estimate the pits may contain as many as 8,000 figures, but the total may never be known Unexcavated Tomb

Qin's tomb itself remains unexcavated, though Siam Qian's writings suggest even greater treasures.
"The tomb was filled with models of palaces, pavilions and offices as well as fine vessels, precious stones and rarities," reads a translation of the text.
The account indicates the tomb contains replicas of the area's rivers and streams made with mercury flowing to the sea through hills and mountains of bronze. Precious stones such as pearls are said to represent the sun, moon, and other stars.
Modern tests on the tomb mound have revealed unusually high concentrations of mercury, lending credence to at least some of the historical account.
Chinese archaeologists are also using remote-sensing technology to probe the tomb mound. The technique recently revealed an underground chamber with four stairlike walls. An archaeologist working on the site told the Chinese press that the chamber may have been built for the soul of the emperor.
Experimental pits dug around the tomb have revealed dancers, musicians, and acrobats full of life and caught in mid-performance, a sharp contrast to the military poses of the famous terra-cotta soldiers.
But further excavations of the tomb itself are on hold, at least for now.
"It is best to keep the ancient tomb untouched, because of the complex conditions inside," Duan Qinbao, a researcher with the Shaanxi Provincial Archaeology Institute, told the China Daily in 2006.

terracotta worriers

1) Qin Shi Huang’s burial complex was the largest in the world­—and it was probably never completed.

Farmers digging a well in a field approximately 20 miles east of Xi’an stumbled upon a pit containing 6,000 life-size terra cotta statues in March 1974. The site was soon identified as the burial place of Emperor Qin, and excavations began almost immediately. Historians now believe that some 700,000 workers worked for nearly three decades on the mausoleum. So far, archaeologists have uncovered a 20-square-mile compound, including some 8,000 terra cotta soldiers, along with numerous horses and chariots, a pyramid mound marking the emperor’s tomb, remains of a palace, offices, store houses and stables. In addition to the large pit containing the 6,000 soldiers, a second pit was found with cavalry and infantry units and a third containing high-ranking officers and chariots. A fourth pit remained empty, suggesting that the burial pit was left unfinished at the time the emperor died.

2) Qin was an effective and powerful ruler, but he was also known for his cruelty. 

After a 200-year period of provincial conflict called the Warring States Period, Qin Shi Huang is credited with unifying the provinces under one centralized government and establishing the capital at Xianyang. The stability of his rule enabled China to experience great advances in politics, economy and culture, including the introduction of a standard written script, a system of canals and roads, advances in metallurgy, standardized weights and measures and large-scale public works projects like the early Great Wall. However, Qin was also known for his brutishness: He ordered the killings of scholars whose ideas he opposed, and showed little regard for the life of the conscripts who built those public works projects, including his burial complex. Numerous laborers and artisans lost their lives during its construction, while others were reportedly killed in order to preserve the secrecy of the tomb’s location and the treasures buried within.

3) Each soldier in the Terra Cotta Army has distinct facial features.
The army of life-size terra cotta soldiers, archers, horses and chariots was stationed in military formation near Emperor Qin’s tomb in order to protect the emperor in the afterlife. The painstaking restoration of the figures—many of which were apparently vandalized soon after the emperor’s death—revealed that they were creating using molds and an early assembly-line-type construction. Though most of their hands are identical, and only eight molds were used to shape their heads, distinctive surface features were added with clay after assembly. As a result, each terra cotta soldier appears to be unique in its facial features, revealing a high level of craftsmanship and artistry.
4) Their weapons were extraordinarily well preserved. 

During excavation of the pits containing the Terra Cotta Warriors, archaeologists have found some 40,000 bronze weapons, including battle axes, crossbows, arrowheads and spears. Even after more than 2,000 years, these weapons remained extremely well preserved thanks to protective chrome plating, a seemingly modern technique (first used in Germany in 1937 and the United States in 1950) that reveals the sophistication of ancient Chinese metallurgy.
5) The emperor’s tomb itself still hasn’t been excavated.

Even 40 years after its discovery, less than 1 percent of Emperor Qin’s tomb has been excavated. Initial fears of damaging the corpse and the artifacts within the tomb later gave way to concerns about the potential safety hazards involved with excavation. According to an account by the first century B.C. Chinese historian Sima Qian, entitled “The Grand Scribe’s Records,” mercury streams were inlaid in the floor of Qin’s burial chamber to simulate local rivers running through his tomb. And in 2005, a team led by Chinese archaeologist Duan Chingbo tested 4,000 samples from the earthen burial mound for mercury; all came back highly positive. Given such historical and chemical evidence, debate continues over whether to excavate the tomb at all, and what methods should be used to best protect its contents as well as the people working at the site.


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