Tuesday, April 19, 2011
The Terracotta Army
The Terracotta Army is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. The figures, dating from 210 BC, were discovered in 1974 by some local farmers in Lintong District, Xi'an, Shaanxi province, near the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor.
The figures vary in height, according to their roles, with the tallest being the generals. The figures include warriors, chariots, horses, officials, acrobats, strongmen and musicians. It is estimated that in the three pits containing the Terracotta Army there were over 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses.
Only a portion of the site is presently excavated, and photos and video recordings are prohibited in some areas of the viewing. Only few foreigners, such as Queen Elizabeth II, have been permitted to walk through the pits, side by side to the army.
Perhaps the weirdest finds in the dig were the extremely sharp swords and other weapons which were found coated with chromium oxide, that made the weapons rust resistant. Chromium only came to the attention of westerners in the 18th century. The alloys of tin and copper enabled weapons such as bronze knives and swords to avoid rust and remain sharp in spite of 2000 years of degrading conditions.