To protect in afterlife - Qin Terracota Army

10:30 PM


After 2200 years an armored archer still guards the horizon for enemies of first Chinese emperor, Qin. The life-size statue belongs to a garrison of few thousands pieces: archers, cavalry troops, charioteers and horses. They are a part - of still not excavated- army from the emperors.

Surrounded by a collapsed roof of ancient timbers 8000 clay soldiers stands there to protect it's emperor in the afterlife. The roof collapse may have been caused by a fire set by rebels shortly after the emperor death. Remains of a palace and secondary pits contain bronze chariots and skeletons of horses have been discovered as well. All of this was a manifestation of Qin's quest for immortality and eternal power.

Qin declared himself emperor in 221 BC after victory in war with six warring states. He was the first ruler to unify China. He quashed the power of feudal nobility and recruited competent administrators to successfully manage the system. Qin standardized weights and measures, written language and currency. His road network likely exceeded 4,000 miles, including 40-foot-wide speedways with a central lane reserved for the imperial family. On the northern frontier, the emperor dispatched his most trusted general to reinforce and connect existing border barriers, creating a bulwark against nomadic marauders. Made of rammed earth and rubble, these fortifications became the basis for the Great Wall, most of which would be rebuilt in stone and brick during the 15th century A.D. under the Ming dynasty. He wanted his great army with him after he died. His underground empire was a miniature of his real one. More than 700 000 laborers toiled 36 years building his monument,

At the age of 49, after and 11 years of reign he died while on a journey of the elixir of life. Qin  died due to ingesting mercury pills, made by his alchemists and court physicians. Ironically, these pills were meant to make Qin Shi Huang immortal. To conceal Qin Shi Huangdi's death—and disguise the stench of a decomposing corpse—until the travelers returned to the capital, Zhao Gao took on a cargo of salted fish.

To gain insight into ancient techniques the Terracota Army museum launched a workshop to recreate terracotta troops. A worker loops coils of wet clay to form the body and arms, Placing a hand in the body for support they join arms and body and legs together with a paddle. Fingerprints and paddle marks found in broken ancient statues confirm the techniques authenticity. Ancient craftsmen also used molds to mass produce heads and ears. Armor details were sculpted manually. A half inch of clay was laid over molded head and hand-worked to give each warrior its own character. In the last part, heads were fired separately and attached to bodies. In 1000C statues are baked for several days until they glow red.

Some archaeologist think that the real soldiers of Qin served as models - each face is distinctive and unique. The terracotta figures are life-sized. They vary in height, uniform, and hairstyle in accordance with rank. Originally, the figures were also painted with bright pigments, variously colored pink, red, green, blue, black, brown, white and lilac. Most of the figures originally held real weapons such as spears, swords, or crossbows, and the use of actual weapons would have increased the figures' realism. Most of the original weapons however were looted shortly after the creation of the army, or have rotted away. Nevertheless many weapons such as swords, spears, battle-axes, scimitars, shields, crossbows, and arrowheads were found in the pits.

The best is still to come. Chinese still didn't decide to excavate his tomb. According to a description written a century after the emperor's death, the tomb contains a wealth of wonders, including man-made streambeds contoured to resemble the Yellow and Yangtze rivers, flowing with shimmering, quicksilver mercury that mimics coursing water. (Analysis of soil in the mound has indeed revealed a high level of mercury) Witings say the emperor created an entire underground kingdom and palace, complete with a ceiling mimicking the night sky, set with pearls as stars. Sima Qian's description of the tomb includes replicas of palaces and scenic towers, "rare utensils and wonderful objects", 100 rivers made with mercury, representations of "the heavenly bodies", and crossbows rigged to shoot anyone who tried to break in.Modern archaeologists have located the tomb, and have inserted probes deep into it. The probes revealed abnormally high quantities of mercury, some 100 times the naturally occurring rate, suggesting that some parts of the legend are credible. Hundred of skeletons have been uncovered near the tomb, many of them believed to be artisans and workers who helped build the grave. According to Sima, these laborers were put to death to preserve secrecy of the location and its treasures: “After the burial and sealing up of the treasures, the middle gate was shut and the outer gate closed to imprison all the artisans and laborers, so that not one came out. Trees and grass were planted over the mausoleum to make it seem like a hill,” he wrote.


Qin era gold sword.



Terracota army armour made from tiny wire-linked limestone plaques

Rare terracota army soldier with preserved painted face



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