The Terracotta Warriors in Xiían is part of the complex discovered in 1974 which was created by Emperor Qin Shihuang, the first Emperor of a united China. The life-sized terracotta figures were created to protect him in the afterlife from the souls of the numerous people he had killed. The figures numbering many thousands provided a great deal of information about their army.
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), Xiían 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 BCE 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, which included warriors and horses (along with wooden chariots) were buried to protect the Emperor Qin (Chin) in his afterlife. 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. The figures average 1.8 meters (6 feet) in height which was big for the Chinese in those days. All are handmade and assembled in parts. The heads were the last to be attached and received the most artistic attention. Each warrior bears its own unique facial expression, suggesting that live models were used. All of which were originally colourfully painted.
The main vault contains 6,000 life sized terracotta warriors aligned in Battle array providing a great deal of information about the way they conducted their battles and the weapons and equipment they had.
Four years after the complex was sealed, during an uprising which brought an end to the Qin dynasty in 206 BCE, many were broken. The whole site was covered with wooden beams held up by the walls between the columns of soldiers, which extended upwards. Over time the beams rotted and collapsed causing damage to the army
In addition, the complex contains additional vaults containing figures of officials and musicians.
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 it being officially designated as a museum in 1975 and the approval of the construction of the appropriate buildings.
Apart from the warriors themselves the site also display numerous artifacts found on the site: These include pottery and weapons.
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 approximately 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 and they mentioned a Sea of mercury. A survey carried out over the mound confirms that there is a large amount of mercury within the mound, so it is probably correct that the interior is set out like the world, with rivers and seas and the emperorís tomb in the centre. Great care was taken to ensure that no one knew about the mausoleum and it is said that all those involved with its construction were either put to death or entombed with the emperor.
To see more photographs and take a virtual tour of the site click on the photoshow below.