16 September 2011

The Terracotta Warriors and Horses - An army frozen in time!

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Emperor Qin Shi Huang was just 13 years old when he ascended the throne in China. He later became the self proclaimed emperor of the entirety of China. As a 13 year old emperor, he ordered the construction of his elaborate tomb. It was believed during that time that objects buried with the dead would aid them in their after life. Emperor Qin took this belief very seriously, as the intricate tomb which he commissioned was replicated with not just weapons, an army, and jewellery but also with an entire landscape. The entire construction took 39 years with the labour of 700’000 workers.

In 1974, some poor farmers who were digging a well, chanced upon fragments of pottery and weapons. Upon notifying the authorities, excavation began, which led to the discovery of what has now been declared a World Cultural Heritage Site and is thought to be the 8th wonder of the world.

The discovery was of 4 pits (named such in order of discovery) 3 of which contained life sized terracotta army personnel and their chariots and weapons all placed in war formations. Though not completely unearthed as yet, it is believed that there are 8000 warriors, 520 horses, and 130 chariots. The warriors varied in height according to their rank in the army. However all of them were on average about 1.8 meters in height. Although evidence of factory and mass production has been discovered, each of the mass made figures were then patched with clay and given individual markings. Historians believe that each figure depicted real warriors.

Since its discovery in 1974, a museum was built on the site the following year. The tomb itself has not been opened yet however discoveries in the surrounding vast area show the entire battle regiments, exotic birds and animals, stars and liquid mercury rivers.

The site has never ceased to amaze visitors and has continued to be a much sought after tourist attraction. The traveller to the province of Xian should definitely mark this site up on their to-do list. If such traveller seeks apartments in Xian from which to base themselves then Xian apartment hotels such as the Citadines Xi'an Central would be ideal, given its spacious and comfortable surroundings and amenities.