The discovery of despotic Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi’s army of 2,200-year-old terracotta warriors occurred in 1974 when local farmers digging a well stumbled upon the site. Qin (a man heavily pre-occupied by death and his legacy) enlisted 700,000 people over some 36 years to create his tomb and had the warriors made in order to be buried near him to protect him in the afterlife. His burial complex is also said to contain 48 tombs for his concubines who were buried alive with the emperor upon his death, a fate also reserved for workers, to prevent the location and design of the tomb from becoming public knowledge.
Widely acclaimed as the eighth wonder of the world, the incredible Terracotta Warriors can now be viewed by the public. The pottery soldiers, each weigh over 300 kilograms and are approximately 1.86 metres tall. More than 7,000 life-sized warriors, archers and horses stand in military formation in three pits under the cover of a modern protective hanger in Xi’an. Made of local clay, the intricacy is astonishing, especially the individual hairstyles on the hand-sculpted heads, no two of which are alike. Further artistry is evident in the detailed belts, footwear and clothing. Originally equipped with weaponry including spears, bows and arrows and swords, many of which have now rotted, the figures were also once vividly coloured. Whilst now dulled by time, some figures retain traces of paint.
In the hanger pit 1 contains the infantry; pit 2 (which is still being excavated) is filled with cavalry and soldiers; and pit 3 (mostly unexcavated) seems to be the command centre with some 70 high-ranking officers.
Delicate excavation continues on site, where hundreds of warriors remain smashed like eggs, not due to the passage of time but rather a peasant revolt after the emperor’s death. The emperor’s tumulus (ancient grave mound) is located about a mile away and is said to contain untold treasures.
Please find below a list of our group tour and tailor-made itineraries that visit Xi’an’s incredible Terracotta Warriors.