20th March 2024 by

50th anniversary of the discovery of the Terracotta Army of Qin Shi Huang

Post contributed by Lorna, Student Experience Ambassador

The Terracotta Army is one of the most significant archaeological discoveries in history, offering a captivating glimpse into ancient China’s military and cultural prowess. This vast collection of
life-sized clay soldiers, horses and chariots was unearthed 20 March 1974 by local farmers drilling a well near the city of Xi’an, in China’s Shaanxi province. Dating back more than 2,000 years, the Terracotta Army was created to accompany China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, beyond his human death.

In Ancient China there was extensive development that aided the country in economic and cultural exchange, such as the development of the Silk Road which connected the East and West and the building of the Great Wall of China. The Terracotta Army is a prime example of the rich cultural heritage in China and is testament to the grandeur and power of the country. Each terracotta soldier is sculpted with intricate details, from their armour to their facial features, which reflects the skill and craftsmanship of the artisans 2,000 years ago. Alongside soldiers, the army includes almost 100 chariots and 600 horses showcasing the emperor’s desire for an opulent and well-prepared afterlife.

As well as the visual spectacle of the Terracotta Army, it offers invaluable insights into ancient Chinese military tactics, weaponry and artistry. It demonstrates the legacy of the Qin Dynasty’s ambition and innovation, as well as China’s rich imperial history.

Today, this archaeological marvel draws millions of visitors from around the world, sparking wonder and fascination with every clay soldier standing tall, preserving the legacy of a bygone era for generations to come.

Clunas, C. (2009) Art in China. Oxford University Press.
Shelach-Lavi, G. (2011) The Archaeology of Early China: From Prehistory to the Han
Dynasty. Cambridge University Press.

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