Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of unified China, and the first Emperor of the Qin dynasty was buried with his now world-famous Terracotta Army, to protect him in the afterlife. For long, this has generated much excitement and interest, after being accidentally discovered by a group of local farmers from the Lintong County in Shaanxi Province of northwest China in 1974. Now, China Global Television Network has reported on the discovery of 25 more Terracotta Army warrior sculptures from Pit 1, outside the secret-tomb of the emperor.
Notably, these finds include the statue of a general and a middle-ranking army officer, which is a break from the norm. Pit 1 is the largest concentration of Terracotta Army figures, infantry soldiers and chariots, and covers an area of 14,260 square meters (153493 square feet).
The new Pit 1 finds include higher-ranking soldiers, identified from their more elaborate headgear. It is estimated that, at the end of the excavations at the site, a total of 6,000 pottery figures and horses will be added to the overall count. This is a small fragment of Qin Shi Huang’s actual territorial army, which was believed to have had at least 500,000 men by most estimates.
Pottery, bronze wares, as well as human and animal figurines made of gold, silver and bronze, have also been unearthed at Pit No.1 in China’s Shaanxi Province.
View of Pit 1, the largest concentration of the Terracotta Army and where the “new” 25 figurines were recently discovered. (Maros M r a z / CC BY-SA 3.0 )
Qin Shi Huang and His Terracotta Army
Qin Shi Huang ruled China from 221 to 210 BC, and his reign was marked by major political and economic reforms, including several public works projects. Most significant of these was unifying and breaking down diverse state boundaries into one larger continuum which would be called the “ Great Wall of China ,” a nationalized road system, and of course, his own mausoleum guarded by his Terracotta Army.
The unfortunate demonization of Qin Shi Huang and his achievements by his immediate successors, the Han dynasty , have made it difficult to reconstruct the period of China’s very first emperor. As per a report on Live Science , the creation of this elaborate army and burial was a way of preserving the memory and exalting the status of the late Qin Shi.
The ambitious Terracotta Army project relied on the labor of more than 700,000 conscripted workers , with work beginning in 246 BC, when Emperor Qin, just 13 years of age, ascended to the throne. The army was placed to the east of the mausoleum containing Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s tomb as a way to protect his expanding eastern territories during his rule.
The average height of the army was 5 feet 8 inches (173 centimeters), with generals being taller than soldiers as a way to indicate seniority.
A few of the 25 Terracotta Army soldiers, many in pieces, recently uncovered in Xian, China. ( China News )
The Significance of the Latest Find
As per a recent Ancient Origins report from December, 2021, the emperor’s tomb, which had lain undiscovered and protected from any exposure for over 2,000 years, suddenly faced the brunt of nature and its elements. The army, originally believed to have been painted in vibrant colors , lost all color after the tomb was discovered. The discovery of the tomb is now widely recognized and accepted as one of the 20th century’s most important finds.
The recent discovery in Pit 1 is significant for a number of reasons. For one, we now know that the Terracotta Army military array arrangement may be symmetrical from north to south, and from east to west. Such an arrangement is an insight into military tactics and strategy from the past, providing modern insights into ancient Chinese military strategies.
The pieces of some of the newly unearthed warriors will be painstakingly restored and placed back together, which is common practice according to the Emperor Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum Site Museum .
Excavation work in Pit 1 started in 2013, and after restoration work, the excavations are slated to continue till the final missing pieces of Emperor Qin’s legendary Terracotta Army are found.
Top image: China’s world famous Terracotta Army, created over 2,000 years ago, was built to protect the first Chinese emperor on a site near Xian that covered 98 square kilometers (38 square miles). Source: David Davis / Adobe Stock
By Sahir Pandey