The Terracotta Army Facts

The Terracotta Warrors Terracotta Warrior

Name: Terracotta Warriors and Chariots (秦陵兵马俑; Qínlíng Bīngmǎyǒng /chin-ling bing-mah-yong/)

Literal meaning: ‘Qin tomb soldier and horse burial figurines'

Features

  • Part of one the world’s largest and oldest imperial tomb complexes.
  • Three new museum sites of the total mausoleum complex were opened in October of 2011.
  • The Terracotta Warriors Museum and the Qin Mausoleum are now combined as a single touring park.
  • Among the top 10 favorite sites for international tourists to visit.
  • The life-size terracotta army, horses, and chariots were made to look realistic.
  • About 1,800 statues have been uncovered, but most of the complex remains unexcavated.
  • The complex is about 2,200 years old.
  • 1987 UNESCO World Heritage List
  • Generally considered one of the top archaeological finds of the 20th century.
xian the terra-cotta warriors and horses
Terracotta Warrior and Horse

Popular Sections:

The main Qin Mausoleum hasn’t been excavated and is thought to be under a earthen hill less than two kilometers from the Museum of the Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses. Below are the main sites.

  • Vault 1: discovered in 1974, it has columns of soldiers and chariots in behind (about 210 m x 62 m).
  • Vault 2: discovered in 1976, it is the highlight of the vaults. There are formations of bowmen, cavalry, horsemen, and chariots (about 96 m x 84 m).
  • Vault 3: also discovered in 1976, it is the smallest of the vaults and is thought to be the command center for the army with a war chariot and a detachment of soldiers (21 m x 17 m).
  • Exhibition Hall of the Qinling Bronze Carriage: There are two large bronze carriages with gold and silver parts. Auxiliary museums of Terracotta Acrobats, the Museum of Terracotta Civil Officials, and the Museum of Stone Armor opened in 2011.
  • The tomb and Terracotta Warrior museums have been incorporated as a single park called Lishan Garden.

Two Day Terracotta Warriors and Other Xi'an Attractions Tour

xianthe terra-cotta warriors and horsesTerracotta Army Museum

History

  • 249 BC It is thought that construction began on the large burial mausoleum for Qin Shi Huang (259 BC – 210 BC) who was the first emperor of the Qin Empire.
  • 210-209 BC Qin Shi Huang died, and thousands of statues were buried with him in pits around his tomb. Construction ended a year after he died when the empire fell into turmoil.
  • 1974 A farmer uncovered a part of the Terracotta Warrior pits.
  • 1979-1994The three main pits were opened to the public.
  • 1987 The Qin Mausoleum and the accompanying vaults of the Terracotta Warriors were named a UNESCO World Heritage.
  • 1999Terracotta acrobats and strongmen were discovered.
  • 2000Terracotta scribes and civil officials were discovered.
  • 2011Three additional museums were opened to the public.
  • Original Purpose: A complex to protect and serve the first emperor of the Qin Empire.
  • Significance: It is considered to be one of the most important archaeological discoveries of the 20th century. The well preserved artifacts reveal much about the Qin Empire’s technology, military, arts, culture, and military and so help historians to understand those ancient times.

Geography

  • Location: about 35 km northeast of central Xi'an (34.39N,109.27E)
  • Height of Burial Mound:It is thought that the burial mound covering his tomb was originally 100 meters high (328 feet), but it has eroded to its present 47 meters (154 feet) height.
  • Total area:The whole burial complex is thought to be bigger than Manhattan, a district of New York City!

Interesting Facts

xian the terra-cotta warriors and horsesTerracotta Army
  • Laborers:Many historians think that 700,000 craftsmen and slaves built the complex.
  • Their deaths:It is thought that all the laborers were put to death to keep the mausoleum a secret along with many others!
  • Construction:The whole complex was built in about 40 years and wasn’t completed.
  • Treasures:It is thought that the underground tomb itself might hold much more treasure and artifacts unless it has been robbed. But it hasn’t been excavated. 2,000 years ago, a historian named Sima Qian wrote that the tomb contained a world with mountains made of gold, stars represented by pearls, jewels, and flowing rivers of mercury.

Additional Information

  • Ticket Price: ~120~150 RMB (17.40~23.60 USD)
  • Hours:08:30-17:30 (March 16 - Nov. 14); 08:30-17:00 (Nov. 15-March 15)

Transportation

FAQs on the Terracotta Army

1. Who discovered the Terracotta Army?

The Terracotta Army was initially discovered by the villagers of Yangcun, Tongxian County, Shaanxi Province. The villagers dug out a terracotta statue when digging wells to combat drought in 1974, and informed a local official, who later reported the finding to the Tongxian Bureau of Culture.

2. Is the Terracotta Army made from real humans?

No, the Terracotta Army is made of a type of clay, but is believed to be modeled on real men to a scale of 1:1. 

3. How tall are the Terracotta Army?

The height of the Terracotta Army ranges from 175 centimeters (5'9) to 190 centimeters (6'3), 184 centimeters (6') on average.

4. Was the Terracotta Army colorful?

Yes. However, the Terracotta Army was oxidized after its excavation due to a lack of protective measures, so most figures look yellowish gray in appearance now. Some figures with evidence of coloring are exhibited separately.

5. Do all warriors in the Terracotta Army have the same facial expression? Why do all of them have single-edge eyelids?

No, each warrior in the Terracotta Army is different from one another in both gestures and facial expressions; however, they have one thing in common: single-edge eyelids.

The legend went that the Emperor Qin Shi Huang (259–210 BC) had single-edge eyelids; therefore, all warriors in the Terracotta Army were made with single-edge eyelids.

6. Why did Emperor Qin Shi Huang order the creation of the Terracotta Army?

Emperor Qin Shi Huang hoped that he would continue his reign after his death in the Qin Dynasty (221–207 BC). As a result, he ordered his mausoleum to be built on Lishan Mountain, where all the rare things on the earth were placed.

Emperor Qin Shi Huang needed a strong army to protect his property, just as he did before; therefore, he ordered the Terracotta Army to be built to act as his warriors in the afterlife.

7. Why does the Terracotta Army face east?

The State of Qin was located in the westernmost part of ancient China during the Warring States Period (475–221 BC), and Emperor Qin Shi Huang led his army to wipe out the six monarchs in the east, one after another, finally bringing the whole country under his dominance.

In order to show off his powerful military strength and great achievement, Emperor Qin Shi Huang ordered the Terracotta Army to be facing east.

8. How many heads of state have visited the Terracotta Army since its discovery?

Over 70 heads of state have already visited it since its discovery, including the former U.S. presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Wilson Reagan, the former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Alfred Kissinger, the former U.S. Vice President Walter Frederick Mondale, Denmark's Queen Margrethe II, the former German chancellors Karl Carstens and Helmut Kohl, Great Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, and the former Japanese Prime Minister Ohira Masayoshi.

9. Who gave the title "the Eighth Miracle of the World" to the Terracotta Army?

After visiting the Terracotta Army in September 1978, French President Jacques Chirac praised it by saying, "There were Seven Wonders in the world, and the discovery of the Terracotta Army, we may say, is the eighth miracle of the world. No one who has not seen the pyramids can claim to have visited Egypt, and now I'd say that no one who has not seen these terracotta figures can claim to have visited China."

Now "the Eighth Miracle of the World" has been known to the world as an alternate name for the Terracotta Army.