Terracotta Warriors, Xi’an China

May 5, 2009:

After Shanghai we flew to Xi’an to see the Terracotta Warriors!

The terracotta warriors were unearthed by farmers digging a well in 1974.  The warriors are part of the contents of Qin Shihuang’s tomb.  Qin Shinhuang was the first emperor to rule over a unified China and began work on his tomb as soon as he took power.  His tomb was completed by over 700,000 workers over a period of almost 40 years.  Five years after Qin Shihuang’s death, looting soldiers set fire to the support beams of his underground tomb vaults.  The ceilings of the vaults crashed down, smashing the warriors into pieces, but ironically, this is what preserved the warriors for centuries, by keeping out the oxygen. There are probably over 8,000 warriors, but excavation has been slow.  We were both surprised by how few of the soldiers had been pieced back together.  One issue slowing down the process is that the paint on the statues turns dust-like and flakes off once exposed to oxygen.  Excavation stopped, until a method for preserving the paint could be figured out.  Also, the main tomb holding Qin Shinhuang has yet to be excavated.  I wonder what treasures lie inside!

Terracotta Warriors, China
Terracotta Warriors, China

Most of the photos are dark because flash photography was not permitted, but that didn’t stop most of the hordes of people that come to see the warriors everyday.  You will need at least 3 hours visiting the various sites and it is well worth the trip to Xi’ An!

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