Brief Historical Overview
The discovery of important archeological treasure sometimes occurs completely by accident. This made the find even more sensational when, in march 1974 in the province of the city of Xi'an, a farmer, who was digging a well to obtain water to irrigate his fields, found the terracotta head of a warrior at depth of 5 meters. He reported what he had found to the local authorities who in turn informed Beijing. In a short time other shafts were dug to analyze the site, and in 1976 was discovered what was to become the most important archeological discovery of 20th Century.
The Terracotta Army:
The army consisted of approximately 8,000 terracotta statues of warriors of the imperial army, each one different from the other, sculpted with amazing realism. In fact, the warriors were immortalized with mutilations, deformation, and even defects such as harelips, disfigurements, and scars such as those which the original live models must have possessed. All of them exhibit a sad, melancholy, noble, and dignified demeanor. They protect the Palace of Darkness behind them and watch over he who is buried there: judging from their faces, a man that they seem to still admire after twenty-two centuries. Each warrior is different from the others: different hair styles, different hair styles, different uniforms and shields, underlining the fact that the imperial that the imperial guard was made up of the best combatants from the various armies of all of China. The statues are 1,75 to 1,95 meters tall, strangely tall in comparison to the average height of Chinese of that time; the bottom portion is completely solid while the upper portion is hollow, to give greater balance and stability to the works. Each one weights in the neighborhood of 200 Kg. The technique used for sculpting the statues consisted of compacting rings of clay so as to create a tube (the torso), which was then completed by adding the arms and legs. This structure was covered with blocks of clay to create the armor, and lastly the head was put into place. The army was made up of warrior armed with spears and swords, archers, foot soldiers, halberdiers, and various other figures who served the combatants such as the servants, mandarins, musicians, and concubines, 100 carts pulled by four horses, coachmen, and everyday objects such as vases and tools. The weapon s, which were made of wood and iron, were almost completely lost due to erosion or deterioration over time; instead, all of the items made of bronze, such as the spear points and arrow tips, survived intact. The army was arranged in three rows of 70 crossbowmen and archers each, with the warriors placed behind them in 36 rows of 150 men each. Each section of four rows is accompanied by a chariot holding a charioteer and an archer and pulled by four horses. The north and west flanks consist of a row of warriors watching out as if to give the alarm for any attack. The army is in position to do battle.
QIN SHI HUANGDI was born in 259 B.C. Upon the death of his father, at the age of thirteen he succeeded to the throne and was assisted by his mother and the prime minister until the age of twenty-two, at which point he exercised full power over the empire. He was the first emperor of Chinese feudal society and adopted a series of measures to promote the development of society, the economy, and culture, such as the standardization of money, of the written language, and of units of measurement.He was the emperor that made the greatest contribution to the unification of china: in 221 B.C. He unified the kingdoms of QI, CHU, YAN, HANN, ZHAO, WEI, and QIN, which had been at war with each other up until then. After founding the Chinese empire, he assumed the title "First August Emperor of the QIN". To establish the boundaries of this new large empire, he ordered the defensive walls, which had been used up until then to separate the various kingdoms at war, to be rebuilt and connected around the entire territory to prevent attacks from the minorities of northern China. These walls were the origin of the Great wall of China. These large works made him one of the greatest political figures of Chinese history. Immortality was one of the emperor's main worries, and during his entire life he organized numerous expeditions by land an by sea to find the famous elixir of long life. Historical documents report that the emperor had a pathological fear of death. He moved continuously throughout the royal palace, which consisted of ten thousand rooms, and he never slept twice in a row in the same room out of fear that evil spirit could kill him. It was probably this phobia that lead him to build the mausoleum with the terracotta army ready to defend him for eternity. Emperor QIN was also exceedingly cruel. To control the minds of his people, he adopted repressive measures such as burning book and burying scholars who did not meet the government's criteria. Emperor QIN died in 210 B.C.
The Mausoleum, which required the work of 700.000 men from all over the country for approximately 10 years, is located a kilometer north of Mount Lishan on the outskirts of Xi'an in Shaanxi province and covers an area of 56,000 square meters. The base of the structure is almost square: its length from north to south is 350 meters and from east to west is 345 meters. Chinese archeologists have discovered around the mausoleum approximately 5,000 sites consisting of pits containing the object accompanying the dead emperor and tombs of dignitaries and the workers who built the mausoleum. One of the pits containing the funerary objects holds bronze horses and chariots, a symbol of the means of transportation used by the emperor, another contains a stable, which shows horse breeding in the court, and others hold the army of warriors, which is the symbol of the enormous military might of the QIN Dynasty. Currently from the pits have been excavated 500 terracotta warriors, 18 wooden chariots, and more than 100 terracotta horses. Less than one third of pit n° 1 has been excavated and restored. The rear two-thirds has been partially excavated and then covered over again to preserve it and restore it at a future time. Due to the government's efforts to conserve the antiquities and to better protect the mausoleum, china does not yet intend to proceed with the excavation of the main tomb of the complex. The pit is divided along its length by 11 brick wall upon which rested in ancient times enormous beams that supported the roof. They were covered with rice straw matting and two meters of earth. As the centuries passed the beams were carbonized and the earth collapsed onto the warriors, breaking them. In the past few years approximately 50,000 antiquities have emerged from the side pits, including numerous treasures such as a chariot made entirely of bronze. The emperor's funeral chamber, which has not yet been completely excavated is so deep as to pass through three levels of aquifers, with bronze walls and surrounded by great quantities of cinnabar, also known as mercury sulfate, which Taoist philosophy considers an energy activator of immortality. Rivers of mercury were caused to flow by mechanical means to imitate the flow of the yellow river and blue river. An enormous copper cupola represent the night sky. To protect the entire complex from thieves, crossbows were installed that were ready to shoot automatically. The statues created to serve and protect the emperor in the hereafter were arranged in complex battle formations with generals and high-ranking officers placed alongside the cavalry, charioteers, archers, and infantry. The majority of the statues were buried in the two largest underground chambers; the commanders of the army are located in a third, smaller pit. In 1987 the mausoleum of emperor QIN SHI HUANGDI, of which the terracotta army is a part, was included on the UNESCO's World heritage list.
The Military Organization:
The QIN army can be said to be learned in the art of war. The principles of war strategy and military organization allowed the emperor and his generals to create a new, highly specialized army that was so powerful It was able to annihilate the other belligerent kingdoms. According to the experts the terracotta army embodies the ancient rules of the art of warfare, from the position of the warriors to the arrangement of the ranks, the quality of the arsenal, and the efficiency of the transportation.