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Chinese Stone Armour

Stone armour found in the tomb of China's first emperor


Archaeologists have made a new discovery in the tomb of China’s first emperor, who is well-known for having the greatest mausoleum in the world and the incredible army of 8,000 terracotta warriors to protect him in the afterlife. 

The finding consists of hundreds of pieces of stone which were delicately assembled into a heavy-duty set of armour. Researchers have now completed the pain-staking job of reassembling 612 pieces into a complete set and it has just gone on display in the Museum of Terracotta Warriors in Xian, Shaanxi, China.

Qin Shi Huang was the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty in the 2 nd century BC.  He became King at the age of 12 and, according to historical records, he had an army of one million professional soldiers built, and was the one who initiated construction of the Great Wall of China.  Huang’s Mausoleum was a copy of his kingdom—which according to the records took 37 years and more than 720,000 people to construct—so that he could maintain his empire after death.  

His tomb has been likened to an underground palace and is said to hold great treasures.  Archaeologists are planning on excavating an area of 13,000 square metres, but to date only 500 square metres have been completed. Within that area is where researchers uncovered the stone pieces.

Each piece of armour is in a different shape and is connected by bronze wires, to ensure its flexibility. It has been suggested that the suit of armour was either used for burial or ceremonial purposes.

Besides armour and helmets, archaeologists have also discovered armour for horses, and spare parts from carriages. They are anticipating that they will eventually uncover an entire armour storehouse as part of the sprawling Mausoleum. As for what lies buried within the remaining 12,500 square metres, that is yet to be discovered.

By April Holloway

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April Holloway is a Co-Owner, Editor and Writer of Ancient Origins. For privacy reasons, she has previously written on Ancient Origins under the pen name April Holloway, but is now choosing to use her real name, Joanna Gillan.

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