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Museum of the Terracotta Warriors

Xi'an Travel Blog

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The single Terracotta Warrior found in an undamaged condition.

The Terracotta Warriors and Horse Museum is located just outside of Xi'an to the northeast near the town of Lintong.  We got up and took a bus out directly out to the site about mid-morning.  The place was already packed and it was another absolutely gorgeous sunny day in central China.  The bus deserts you at a parking lot where you can either walk the 1/2 mile or so to the entrance or take a small tram ride (there was a cost involved but since I didn't take it can't say what it was).

The first thing I view approaching the main area of the Terracotta Warriors is the large building housing Pit 1.  This building is around the size of 2 football fields.

Terracotta Warriors Pit 1
  Entering the building, which is bathed in soft light so as not to damage the reconstructed warriors (more on that in a bit), the room seems even larger.  In the front of the Pit 1 are row upon row of the Warriors so prevalent in photos and books.  Literally thousands of warriors were built and lined up in this area.  Closer examination reveals that each warriors face was a unique construction as they all have different features.  The front of the pit has several hundred warriors and horses of the cavalry all facing towards the east, the main area of the Qin Empire.

A bit of history - Emperor Qin Shi Huang was the ruler of an early Chinese Dynasty (Qin) in the mid 200's BCE.  He united many of the disparate tribes of China and is generally regarded as the first imperial ruler.

Rows of Infantry in Pit 1
  During his reign the first segments of the Great Wall were constructed and also his tomb and the warrior army that would accompany him into the afterlife.  Hundreds of thousands of conscripts built the Terracotta Warrior Army.  He died and was buried in a mausoleum about 1 km west of the site of the Terracotta Army (the soldiers were protecting their Emperor from the main areas of the Qin Empire).  Unfortunately the Terracotta Army was not that successful in protecting its Emperor as the area was looted and burned only a few years after Qin Shi Huang's death in 210 BC.  The warriors would remain unknown until 1974 when several farmers digging a well would find the first remains of the Terracotta Army.

Walking further back from the front of Pit 1 (which contains mostly infanty and a small number of horses), many of the sections are still covered or have been recovered to protect the ruins from oxidation.

Working on reconstructing the excavated Terracotta Warriors
  On top of the exquisite craftsmanship of the warriors, each one was painted, however the paint flakes quickly off when exposed to the air.  At the very back of Pit 1 is an area where archaelogists are reconstructing full warriors from the buried ruins found in Pit 1.  While no direct count has been done, it is estimated that Pit 1 contains around 6000 soldiers.

Leaving from the back of Pit 1, we walk into the second building (which in this case is Pit 3).  Pit 3 is much smaller than Pit 1 as it contains the command center of the Terracotta Army.  In this pit are more chariots, officers, and generals of the Terracotta Army.  While some small amount of reconstruction has been done here, by far the majority of the pit remains in an unexcavated state.

Pit 3 - Headquarters (or maybe the be-head-ed quarters)
  Pit 2 contains an assortment of infantry with more cavalry than is found in Pit 1.  The majority is again mostly unexcavated.  A fourth pit was found in the 1980's which was empty, speculating that Emperor Qin Shi Huang died prior to the completion.

In addition to the Terracotta Army, Emperor Qin Shi Huang's mausoleum, an intricate palace the size of 6 football fields, lies mainly unexcavated.  The chariots seen in my photos are one of the few objects to be excavated from this area (they were found on the outside of the main area of the mausoleum though).  But for many reasons there has been little other excavation of the site of the mausoleum to date.  Archaelogists are still not sure whether other pits might house still more wonders to be discovered.

Bronze Chariots found near Emperor Qin's Mausoleum

Inside each of the buildings housing the individual pits is a treasure trove of additional information regarding the warriors and the Qin time period which did not long outlast its namesake.  While Emperor Qin Shi Huang died in 210 BCE and a son was placed on the throne, the Qin dynasy ended only four years later in 206 BCE. 

All in all the presentation is well done here.  It was definitely a highlight of this segment of the trip through China.

 

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The single Terracotta Warrior foun…
The single Terracotta Warrior fou…
Terracotta Warriors Pit 1
Terracotta Warriors Pit 1
Rows of Infantry in Pit 1
Rows of Infantry in Pit 1
Working on reconstructing the exca…
Working on reconstructing the exc…
Pit 3 - Headquarters (or maybe the…
Pit 3 - Headquarters (or maybe th…
Bronze Chariots found near Emperor…
Bronze Chariots found near Empero…
View of the surrounding area of th…
View of the surrounding area of t…
Flowering roses on the grounds of …
Flowering roses on the grounds of…
Roses outside on the plaza
Roses outside on the plaza
Roses outside on the plaza
Roses outside on the plaza
Terracotta Warriors Pit 1
Terracotta Warriors Pit 1
Terracotta Warriors Pit 1 - partia…
Terracotta Warriors Pit 1 - parti…
Terracotta Warriors Pit 1 - wide v…
Terracotta Warriors Pit 1 - wide …
Terracotta Warriors Pit 1 - the wa…
Terracotta Warriors Pit 1 - the w…
The front lines of Warriors in Pit…
The front lines of Warriors in Pi…
Terracotta Horses
Terracotta Horses
Exquisite detail in the faces of t…
Exquisite detail in the faces of …
Looking from behind towards the fr…
Looking from behind towards the f…
Thousands of terracotta warriors s…
Thousands of terracotta warriors …
Working on reconstructing the exca…
Working on reconstructing the exc…
Working on reconstructing the exca…
Working on reconstructing the exc…
Working on reconstructing the exca…
Working on reconstructing the exc…
Fitting the pieces of the jigsaw p…
Fitting the pieces of the jigsaw …
Areas of excavation.
Areas of excavation.
Areas of excavation.
Areas of excavation.
Pit 3 - Headquarters
Pit 3 - Headquarters
Pit 3 - Headquarters
Pit 3 - Headquarters
Pit 2 - Cavalry
Pit 2 - Cavalry
Pit 2 - Cavalry
Pit 2 - Cavalry
Pit 2 - Cavalry
Pit 2 - Cavalry
Entrance to the Museum complex
Entrance to the Museum complex
Large Marionettes from the Olympic…
Large Marionettes from the Olympi…
Description of the Puppets/Marione…
Description of the Puppets/Marion…
Bronze Chariots found near Emperor…
Bronze Chariots found near Empero…
Bronze Chariots found near Emperor…
Bronze Chariots found near Empero…
Terracotta Warriors Museum Plaza
Terracotta Warriors Museum Plaza
Other groups making the rounds of …
Other groups making the rounds of…
Some more amusing signs on the way…
Some more amusing signs on the wa…
Some more amusing signs on the way…
Some more amusing signs on the wa…
Xi'an Sights & Attractions review
Museum of Terracotta Warriors and Horses
An incredible highlight of a trip to China. China has done an incredible job of preserving and maintaining this site. The main area of the Pits is… read entire review
Xi'an
photo by: Deats