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Terra Cotta Warriors

An Introduction to Terra Cotta Warriors

The Terracotta Warriors Museum lies 1.5 km east of Shihuang Mausoleum, known as the First Emperor, who unified China 2200 years ago.

The Terracotta Warriors figures lie underground for more than 2000 years. In 1974, farmers digging a well about 1500 meters east of the tomb uncovered one of the greatest archaeological sites in the world. The firstly discovered site of Terracotta Warriors was named Pit One. In 1976, the other two pits were uncovered 20-25 meter close to the Pits One, and were named Pit Two and Pit Three respectively. Excavation of the underground vaults of earth and timber revealed thousands of life - sized Terracotta Warriors in battle formation - a whole army which would accompany its emperor into immortality. The excavation was a real big shock to the whole world - the vaults are so big, the figures are so vivid and the number of the figure is so incredible.

Terracotta Warriors Museum covers an area of 16,300 square meters, divided into three sections: No. 1 Pit, No. 2 Pit, and No. 3 Pit respectively. They were tagged in the order of their discoveries.

No. 1 Pit
No. 1 Pit is the largest, first opened to the public on China's National Day, 1979. There are columns of soldiers at the front, followed by war chariots at the back.

The Terra Cotta Pit No. 1 is 230 meters east to west, and 62 meters north to south. At a depth of five meters, it is cavern-like and constructed from earth and wood. Five slopping entrances reach down to it from the east and west. Ten partitioning walls separate the underground army into different columns. The walls are reinforced by stout beams, which are covered by reeds and earth. The floor is paved with black bricks.

There are more than 6,000 terracotta warriors and horses in Pit No. 1, marshaled into battle line formation. Three columns facing out on the east act as vanguard. Each squad is 70 strong, making it 210 troopers altogether. They flank out left and right on the south and the north. The rear guard is on the west. They are armed with crossbows.

No. 2 Pit
The Terra Cotta Pit No. 2 is 20 meters due east of Pit No. 1. It is 6,000 square meters subdivided into L-Shaped foursquare sections, where archeologists unearthed 1,000 warriors, 500 horses, and 89 wooden chariots. The horses are both for pulling chariots and for carrying riders. It reflects a vibrant and dynamic atmosphere.

First group, 334 archers, is lined up in eight clusters. They are armed with crossbows. Some 160, clad in heavy protective armor, are in the front line kneeling position, and others stand behind to shoot over their heads.

Second group, 64 chariots, is also in eight clusters. Each chariot is officered by an archer, supported by a soldier on either side, and reinforced by another infantryman in the flank. It is an improvement on chariot tactics.

At the center of Pit No. 2, the third section has 19 war chariots and around 100 warriors. They are three clusters: the right, the left, and the rear. Each has chariots up at front. Messengers and archers hurry about on their business.

The fourth section is due north. There are three clusters, consisting of six chariots, 124 vaulting horses and men. Each chariot carries two: the charioteer and his scout. The cavalryman looks ferocious, and holds a bow in his hand. The wooden chariots have rotten away with age, but they leave clear unmistakable marks on the floor.

No. 3 Pit
No. 3 Pit, 25 meters northwest of No. 1 Pit. It looked like to be the command center of the armed forces. It went on display in 1989, with 68 warriors, a war chariot and four horses.

The terracotta warriors are posted on guard duties. There are animal bones and deer horns strewn about, probably sacrifices offered on the eve of a battle. You could find the terracotta warriors with painted faces and wearing painted armor. Archeology experts attribute to this group the command center or headquarters group for those in the other two pits.

The Terracotta Warriors figures supply abundant and detailed artifacts for the study of the military, cultural and economic history of that period. The Terracotta Army figures excavation was regarded as one of the greatest discoveries of the 20th century. In December 1987, UNESCO selected the Tomb of the First Emperor (including the Terracotta Army Vaults) as a World Cultural Heritage Site. Standing in the vaults, you would be amazed by such a grand ancient army formation, which would transport you back to the ancient warring states period. The tomb is a treasury not only for the Chinese people but also for the whole world.

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