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The Terra Cotta Army

Research project for Mrs. Whisenant's 6th block
by

Caitlin Maisonville

on 10 September 2012

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Transcript of The Terra Cotta Army

photo (cc) Malte Sörensen @ flickr The Army of Clay Research Project- Mrs. Whisenant's 6th Period Caitlin Maisonville This Chinese archaeological site contains thousands of warriors, horses, and pottery sculpted from terra cotta, a ceramic material similar to clay. They were first discovered in 1976, and I think this terra cotta army is one of the most interesting discoveries in archaeology, which is why I decided to research it for my project. Introduction-- Why did I choose this topic? In March 1974, peasants were digging in the dry Shaanxi area of northwest China. They only intended to dig a well, but found the first evidence of what would be one of the greatest discoveries in archaeology. Close to the tomb of the first Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huangdi was a massive army of life-size warriors and horses made out of terra cotta and painted. They had been there for over two thousand years.
Each is delicately carved to the finest detail. Some are worn away, it's still an amazing feat, especially for the limited resources. Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi ordered for these warriors to be built so he would be just as powerful in the afterlife as he was in his reign. Religious practices in China at the time included believing in an afterlife, and Huangdi thought if he was buried gloriously, he would live gloriously in his afterlife.

The warriors symbolize Emperor Huangdi's army. He wanted to bring his power into the afterlife. So far, a few thousand warriors have been discovered, but there may be more, because excavation is still ongoing and there are still more areas of the temple to discover. There are also an estimated one hundred chariots, and six thousand more warriors to dig up.

The main tomb has not been excavated yet. Archaeologists are mostly unsure about its exact location. Did this emperor deserve an army of eight thousand stone warriors? Though he unified China into one empire and standardized a common written language, in order to build this tomb, 700,000 laborers slaved away building it for many years.
Archaeologists also predict that these statues were the first, or at least the oldest discovered, free-standing statues in art's entire history. The army was well preserved from being trapped underground, but most of the bright, vivid paint has worn off. Once they were discovered, experts had to quickly prevent them from falling apart. Currently, they are preserved by techniques including a special see-through glue that prevents the paint's decay. If you want to learn more, there are many resources. Quite a few T.V. documentaries have been done on the terra cotta army, and there also many articles about it, one of the best being this article from the Smithsonian Museum, found here:
http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/On-the-March-Terra-Cotta-Soldiers.html What I found most interesting was the fact that it was nearly destroyed. It would be horrible for it to have burned down; then we wouldn't get a chance to discover it today. Unfortunately at one point, these clay soldiers were nearly destroyed. During Emperor Huangdi's rule, he had to defend the tomb from a rebellion. The rebel leader who wanted to overthrow the emperor broke into the tomb where the warriors were not yet completed, set fire to one area, and stole weapons. Luckily, they weren't able to burn the whole thing. . http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3450/3707879921_6e488e9855.jpg http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/On-the-March-Terra-Cotta-Soldiers.html# http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3417/3195366462_cdab73e49f.jpg http://bbsimg.paipai.com/2007/10/08/000/788.jpg What the warriors are predicted to look like if the paint was fully restored:
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