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  • Ancient Chinese Technology and Art:Terra Cotta Army

    National Council for Social Studies National Conference in Kansas CityNovember 19,2005

  • The Terra Cotta Armyof Emperor Qin Shi-HuangdiFounder of the Qin dynasty221-206 BCE. Xian, China

  • Most students know about 2 things from China. The Great Wall and the Terra Cotta Army. They are fascinated by both because of the scale of each. Xian , where the army is located , means western capital. It was the starting point for the Silk Roads.

  • Pit Number One

  • In 1974, several farmers digging a well found the Terra Cotta Army in their field. They called in local authorities to examine the pieces they had uncovered. As they dug into this field , the archaeologists uncovered the army.They found 3 pits , each with different soldiers in them.

  • This is the well which 3 farmers were digging when they found the army in 1974

  • The farmers who found the site in 1974, were paid about $500 for their land by the government. Today ,they work signing autographs for tourists who visit it and are paid a salary by the Chinese government.

  • There are 3 large pits at this site. Pit 1 covers an area of 16,000 square meters . It is covered in a huge dome.Pit 2 covers an area of 7,100 square meters and includes bronze chariots.Pit 3 covers an area of 4,282 square meters and is the least excavated.

  • Horses in Pit 2

  • Ramps to get the soldiers in.

  • A group of ceremonial guards

  • How long would it have taken to create over 7,000 separate soldiers out of clay ?What fuel would have been needed to fire these clay figures to make them into terra cotta ?

  • Pit # 1 contains over 6,ooo soldiers

  • Putting the army back together

  • The army being reassembled

  • Tera cotta is a hard semifired waterproof ceramic clay. When the warriors were first found, they were brightly painted. Since that time, the paint has been slowly disappearing. Archaeologists do not understand exactly what is causing the damage.

  • The bundles are missing pieces

  • When archaeologists work at putting the soldiers back together, they find potential pieces and create a bundle of them for each one. Then the workers searches for the location of a specific piece. If they find ONE PIECE in a day, they are very happy. Putting this gigantic puzzle back together will be the lifes work of many archaeologists.

  • Individual Faces

  • Every soldier has a unique face so the potters making them were probably modeling each one after a specific person. What can we learn 2200 years later about China at this time from these figures?

  • An enlisted man

  • An offficer and his horse

  • Clothing and hairstyles show us the class differences which existed in this army. An officer has a topknot

  • An archer without his bow

  • Seeing the army

  • MoustachesArchaeologists have found 24 different types of moustaches on the soldiers faces. They show the range of social classes which the army came from. Individual differences could indicate social status or simply personal preference.

  • Another view

  • Archaeologists believe that each figure would have been fired at approximately 100 C in a kiln for a week. The figures were broken when wooden roof beams collapsed on top of them after a fire in antiquity.

  • Officers in the front in battle formation

  • This is how the army was found. It had been broken into many small pieces.

  • Another view

  • Cavalry troops

  • Hairstyles show these were regular army

  • Armies under repair

  • Since few weapons of any kind were found with the soldiers, it is probable that they were stolen in the past so they could be used.

  • A Ming era tomb on top of warriors

  • Headless soldiers

  • Pit Number Three

  • The canvas covered areas are protecting soldiers from whatever environmental damage is degrading their paint.

  • Continuing work here

  • A cavalry officer with his horse

  • A huge army being reassembled.

  • The Terra Cotta Army was created in the neighboring mountains. Chinese archaeologists have found the kilns used to bake the statues.For the army, individual soldiers can be used to identify the area they came from through clothing design.

  • What does this army tell us about how much political and military control the emperor had in his kingdom ?

  • Bronze Chariot with umbrella

  • Since bronze was expensive, the horses and chariot are smaller than life size. This chariot was recently shown in the movie Hero . It brought the main character to a visit with Qin Shi Huangdi.

  • Horses Bridle

  • Silver and gold bridle

  • In 1987, the Terra Cotta Army was placed on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. The site has been visited by approximately 40 million people in 20 years. It welcomes 1,500,000 visitors a year.

  • Chinese archaeologists know the location of Shi Huangdis tomb. They are waiting to open it, in hopes that future technology will allow more information to be discovered once it is opened.It also is supposed to have MANY unpleasant surprises inside.