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Terracotta Warriors from Tomb of First Emperor, China. Credit: Lukas Hlavac / Adobe Stock

220 More Terracotta Warriors Found in Chinese Emperor’s Tomb

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Chinese archaeologists have found over 220 terracotta warriors in the Mausoleum of the First Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, adding to his enormous army of soldiers for the afterlife. The find is unique as the new warriors came with five different official titles, including senior military ranks, and a new military rank dubbed “lower than the lowest”.

The Terracotta Army is a collection of earthenware sculptures depicting the army of the First Emperor, mirroring the ranks, uniforms and weapons of real soldiers of the Qin dynasty (221-206 BC). They were interred with Qin Shi Huang around 210 BC and were designed to defend him in the afterlife. It is believed that he was obsessed with achieving immortality.

The army of clay figures was uncovered in Xi'an, north-west China in the 1970s, completely by chance and they have fascinated the world ever since. The latest discovery came after a decade of pain-staking excavations at the site.

Terracotta Army

Ecns.com quoted Liu Zheng of the China Cultural Relics Academy as saying that “The terracotta warriors in the mausoleum are lined up the same way as real soldiers thousands of years ago in the Qin Dynasty”.

The soldiers were made in a very realistic way by skilled craft people and they are even armed with real weapons such as crossbows, which could have been used in battle. It is believed the figures in the army were modeled on real-life soldiers who served in the armies of Qin Shi Huang. The sculptures were all painted, often in vivid colors.

The terracotta army was placed in a series of pits around the Emperor’s tomb. Chinese archaeologists have been investigating a site known as ‘pit one’ since 2009. It is a huge archaeological site that covers an area of 1200 square feet. Here archaeologists found over 220 new terracotta soldiers, which were well-preserved. Liu states that “When these pottery figurines were first excavated, they were mostly colored” reports Ecns.com.

The head of one of the newly discovered soldiers. Credit: Emperor Qin Shi Emperor's Mausoleum

The head of one of the newly discovered soldiers. Credit: Emperor Qin Shi Emperor's Mausoleum

New Officer Ranks

The commanders or officers were found armed with swords at the front and they had different hair accessories than the common soldiers. A dozen clay life-size horses were also unearthed with the warriors.  A number of previously unknown military ranks were uncovered during the dig. According to Archaeology News Network , the rank ‘lower than the lowest’, was identified for the first time. A number of other new officer ranks were found among the terracotta warriors.

The newly discovered ranks are providing new insights into the army of the First Chinese Emperor.  They are offering new evidence on how his army was organized and structured. It can also help researchers to understand how he was able to conquer a great number of states over a large geographical area.

A cross bow unearthed among the warriors. Credit: Emperor Qin Shi Emperor's Mausoleum

A cross bow unearthed among the warriors. Credit: Emperor Qin Shi Emperor's Mausoleum

A Golden Camel

Also found with the warriors were “military tripods, crossbows, golden sabers and everyday items such as spoons, plates, tinctures, and kettles” according to RT News . Near the terracotta figures was unearthed a small golden camel.  It is a very realistic representation of a Bactrian camel, one that was widely used by traders, in ancient times. This is the earliest known one to be found in China. This item may help researchers to better understand the history of Chinese trade with the outside world before the Silk Road. 

Golden camel found during the latest round of excavation in the Mausoleum of the First Emperor. (Photo credit: China News Service)

Golden camel found during the latest round of excavation in the Mausoleum of the First Emperor. (Photo credit: China News Service)

At present, the aim of the archaeologists is to conserve the figures, especially their colors, which was not possible previously. Ecns.com reports Liu as stating that ‘improved technologies are enabling the newly found figurines to retain their vivid colors’. The experts hope to continue the dig and at the same time to conserve any artifacts found.  It is believed that even more terracotta warriors will be found in the Mausoleum in the future.

Top image: Terracotta Warriors from Tomb of First Emperor, China. Credit: Lukas Hlavac / Adobe Stock

By Ed Whelan

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