Terracotta Warriors cast light on past

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IN 1974, farmers in the X’ian province of China were drilling a well when they made a strange discovery – fragments of terracotta buried deep beneath the earth.

The First Emperor: China’s Entombed Warriors exhibition When archaeologists were brought in to excavate the site, they found something remarkable; three pits containing more than 7000 life-sized terracotta warriors of different ranks, together with their horses and chariots.

The warriors, created 2200 years ago, each have individual and animated expressions carved into their realistic faces.

It was one of the most important archaeological discoveries to date, though had the farmers made their find just a decade earlier during the Cultural Revolution, these soldiers could well have been destroyed along with other relics from the past during that time.

Thankfully the warriors were preserved and some of them are now on display at the Art Gallery of NSW in ‘The First Emperor,’ an exhibition of over 120 objects.

In the exhibition are ten of the life-sized soldiers and horses, along with other significant and more recent finds from the First Emperor Qin Shihuang’s mausoleum, also in the X’ian province near to where the warriors were found.

First Emperor Qin Shihuang has been described as both a cruel and brutal ruler and a hero and revolutionary, but above all he is renowned as the founder of a united China.

The army of warriors were found buried around one kilometre east of his tomb, leading historians to believe they were there to guard and protect the entrance to the spirit road leading to his burial.

The warriors were placed according to rank, and some were even equipped with actual weapons including bronze swords and spears.

Their discovery thousands of years later has given Qin Shihuang a whole new afterlife.

The First Emperor: China’s Entombed Warriors, is on now until March 13 at the Art Gallery of NSW from 10am to 5pm every day with extended hours until 9pm Wednesdays and 8pm Saturdays.


Author: Melissa Davey | Source: Northern District Times [January 11, 2011]


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