The Terracotta Warriors are located in Xiían which is in the Yellow River Basin area of central-northwest China. Known originally as Chang'an (meaning the eternal city), Xian stretches back for more than 3,000 years. It was the eastern end of the famous Silk Road and is regarded as one of the birthplaces of the ancient Chinese and the capital of 13 dynasties for over 1,000 years.
The Terracotta Warriors were created by the Emperor Qin Shihuang who united China for the first time in 221 BC after defeating six other states and creating the Qin dynasty which was to give its name to China. The most notable achievements for Qin were the construction of the Great Wall and the Terracotta Army, both of which caused immeasurable suffering for those involved in their construction.
Qinís fear of his own death and his fear of the souls of those he had killed resulted in his searching for the elixir of immortality and the construction of a life size terracotta army to protect him from the souls of those who he had mercilessly executed. The figures of warriors and horses arranged in battle formations are replicas of what the Imperial Guard looked like in those days. All are handmade and were assembled in parts. Each warrior bears its own unique facial expression, suggesting that live models were used. In addition, the complex contains figures of officials and musicians, all of which were originally colourfully painted. The main vault contains 6,000 life sized terracotta warriors with many more in additional pits in the complex. Four years after the complex was sealed, during an uprising which brought an end to the Qin dynasty in 206 BC, many were broken. The whole site was covered with wooden beams held up by the walls between the columns of soldiers, although with the deterioration and collapse of the wooden beam supports, more damage was done.
The site was discovered in 1974 during the digging of a well when some pottery relics were found. Archaeologists determined their origin and began excavating the site, which resulted in the construction of a museum being approved in 1975. The complex was listed by UNESCO in 1987 as a world heritage site.
Qin is believed to be buried under an earth mound about 1 mile from the Terracotta Warrior site. The mound is thought to have been a 170m high (488ft), square pyramid approx 350m long. Archaeologists have yet to excavate it as the Chinese government will not allow excavation until they have the ability to preserve itsí contents; for as soon as it is opened anything in it will start to deteriorate. Ancient writings hint that Qin's mausoleum may contain a wealth of treasures, more striking and precious than anything previously found.
To see more photographs and take a virtual tour of the site click on the photoshow below.