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China -> Xi'an -> Army of the Terra-cotta Warriors
Army of the Terra-cotta Warriors    Xi'an, Shaanxi Province

In 1974, some peasants digging a well stumbled upon what is one of the most lavish expressions of imperial power and artistry. The Army of the Terra-cotta Warriors in the tomb of Emperor Qinshi Huangdi sat undisturbed for over 2,000 years. Emperor Qinshi was the first to unite China under one rule, the Qin Dynasty. This tomb was actually built during the lifetime of Emperor Qinshi and it is believed it survived untouched so long because there were no historical records that indicated their existence.

Wooden roofs originally sheltered the thousands of soldiers housed within three vaults. The roofs have long deteriorated but one can still see the imprints left by the wood on the earthen walls. All of the soldiers were armed with bronze weapons - swords, spears, crossbows, and longbows - that still retain their sharp tips today. The soldiers that we see are a dull gray but it is believed that each soldier was painted in vibrant colors.

Pit No. 1 contains the main army with 6,000 of the 8,000 soldiers and horses. Among the ranks are standing soldiers, horses, and even horse-drawn chariots, though these are gone since they were made of wood. Pit No. 2 housed more chariots, cavalry, and infantrymen. Pit No. 3 is still unexcavated but it is believed that it houses the higher-ranking officials due to the more elaborate costumes they wear (viewed using ultrasound).



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