Today we went to the main attraction in Xian and the 8th Wonder of the World: the famous Terracotta Army. We opted not to go with the hostel tour and took the public bus out to the site. Wasn’t too bad: you take Bus 603 to the train station then transfer to Bus 306 which takes you all the way there, total only 8 RMB each.
The Terracotta Army was part of the tomb of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China of the Qin Dynasty. He established the first unified China in about 220 BC and started projects like the Great Wall, a common currency, and a common language. Too bad he employed about 700,000 slaves essentially to build his massive tomb over 37 years! It’s the biggest tomb in the world. He believed in an afterlife underground and took his army and other prized possessions with him.
The tomb is simply mind-blowing. It’s amazing to think that the terracotta figures were created over 2,000 years ago and the bronze and other metal-work was extremely advanced. The archaeologists found chrome-plating on some of the weapons which was originally thought to be invented by the Germans in 1937. And here were the Chinese, doing it 2,000 years before. No one knows how they did it.
The Terracotta Army was only discovered in 1974 when local farmers tried to dig a well. Can you imagine having all of that undiscovered for so long?!?! It’s mind boggling. Think about what else could be underground somewhere.
You’ll see the figures are tan colored, but they were actually originally painted in bright colors with natural pigments. The archaeologists also can’t figure out how they got such bright colors using natural ingredients either. Each figure has different features and it’s presumed that each soldier was modeled after a real person.
Only 2,000 of a presumed 6,000 soldiers in Pit 1 have been restored, and the excavation is still in process.