History & Culture

Chinese archaeologists unearth more terracotta warriors

Chinese archaeologists have unearthed about 120 more terracotta warriors in their latest excavations at the Terracotta Army site that surrounds the tomb of China’s first emperor in Shaanxi province.

Xu Weihong, acting head of the excavation team, said that most of the newly found Terracotta Warriors were broken when unearthed from the No 1 pit in Lintong county, 35 km east of Xi’an, Shaanxi’s capital.

The excavation started on June 13 last year, and Xu said it was still hard to tell the exact number of the figures, reports the China Daily.

The No 1 pit is the first and largest of three pits at the site. It had also suffered the worst damage, so archaeologists had not pinned much hope on the excavation.

“It’s a pleasant surprise to find some of them painted in pink, red, white, gray or lilac,” Xu said.

Archaeologists said that the colours on the figures’ faces showed their different expressions, but further studies will be needed. Xu and his colleagues used special chemicals to preserve the figures original colours and after taking photographs, wrapped them in plastic film for protection.

Richly coloured figures were unearthed from the mausoleum of Qin Shihuang, the first emperor of a united China, in the previous two excavations, but once they were exposed to the air they began to lose their lustre and turned an oxidized grey.

To better protect the unearthed clay warriors and horses and the colours on them, the museum cooperated with German archaeologists and technicians for more than 10 years and achieved “very effective preservation technologies”. “We also found 12 clay horses and a number of other relics such as bronze weapons, wooden chariots, drums and wooden rings in the pit,” Xu said.

The excavation also made clear that the pit had seven layers and was set on fire, as archaeologists found traces of burns on the clay warriors and the walls of the pit. The newly found figures were between 1.8 and 2 meters tall, a mystery archaeologists are still trying to understand. “We’re not certain whether people who lived in the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) were actually that tall, or the craftsmen exaggerated their height,” Xu said.

An army officer also stood out in the excavation. Except for his broken head, the figure was one of the best preserved ones unearthed this time.

Zhang Tianzhu, deputy head of the excavation team said that besides the Terracotta Warriors, archaeologists also found piles of charcoal that was believed to be grain in ancient times.

On the two chariots, archaeologists found three “suitcases” that were made of a fabric similar to silk. Similar fabric was found on the drum.

“It provides important clues for further research on textiles and industry in the Qin Dynasty, Xu said.

The No 1 pit is said to contain about 6,000 life-sized Terracotta figures, more than 1,000 of which were found in previous excavations. Experts believe the emperor had hoped the army would help him rule in the afterlife.

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Printable version | Nov 30, 2021 7:21:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/history-and-culture/Chinese-archaeologists-unearth-more-terracotta-warriors/article16302074.ece

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