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Terracotta warriors



In 1974, a group of Chinese farmers have found some life-sized clay soldiers while digging a well about 35 kilometers from the city of  Xian in central China.   As they dug, their spades hit against some life –sized clay soldiers. Since then archaeologists have continued to explore the site. What they have found is one of the most exciting discoveries of modern times.

The clay soldiers were buried in 210 BC. In that year the emperor of China was Qin Shihuang, he died and was buried in a mighty tomb. The soldiers were buried nearby to guard the dead emperor, just as real soldiers had guarded him while he was alive.


The emperor was a cruel and ruthless man, hated by most of his people. They paid high taxes and had very little freedom. Hundreds of thousands of people were forced to work on projects such as building the Great Wall and making the emperor’s tomb.

When Emperor Qin Shishuang died in 210 BC on a journey to the eastern part of China, his advisers were worried that the people would rebel against the Qin kingdom. So they covered his body with rotting fish to disguise the smell and took it back to be buried at Xian.

Qin Shihuang was only 14 years old when he began planning his future tomb. It was being built all the time he was emperor. The inner tomb area was 4 kilometers around surrounded by a wall; the outer part was much bigger still. Mechanical crossbows were set as traps in the passageway to kill anyone who entered the tomb to steal the riches inside. When Qin Shihuang was buried, the tomb was covered with grass to make a huge mound, it was once 166 meters high, now eroded by rain and wind to less than 40 meters.

For 22 centuries, all that was known of Qin Shihuang’s tomb was huge grassy mound. It is still there waiting to be excavated. The clay soldiers have been called "Terracotta Warriors" were 1500 metres east of the mound. Two further pits were found in 1976.

About 8000 life-sized clay soldiers have now been found- they maybe many more. Some have now been restored and many are still broken into pieces. Each soldiers has a different face and they are lined up according to rank. It was a complete army,rank upon rank of soldiers buried to guard the emperor’s tomb.

Terracotta Warriors- an army under the earth

The soldiers stand in deep passageways divided by wall about 6 meters below ground level. The archers soldiers come first with their crossbows, then the foot soldiers carrying bronze knives, spears and swords, which are still sharp and shiny after 2000 years underground. The foot soldiers wear short tunics; some have their hair rolled up others have a small hat. The officers have chest armor and big boots. The high –ranking officers have long bears and stand at the back of their armies. There are horse-drawn chariots, each commanded by a charioteer.

The statues were made in a workshop and fired in kilns near the tomb site. Originally they were painted and traces of the paint can still be seen on some of them. Over two thousand years after they were made, the clay soldiers still stand on the alert guarding the tomb of their emperor.


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