The Terra Cotta Warriors and horses were discovered on March 29th 1974 when some local farmers were digging the water well for irrigating their wheat, they happened to dig up what turned out to be the greatest archaeological findings of the last century - A large scale vault of some 8,000 terra cotta warriors and horses of the Qin Dynasty.Today, hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world come on the Xian Tours to visit the Terra Cotta Warriors.
The figures found by farmers were broken; restoration afterwards shows that they were around the size of real people. After further excavation, archaeologists have actually found the area was times larger than they expected and in the area they drilled trail trenches, there were some buried army of more than 6,000 terra cotta warriors and horses (they named it Pit 1).They continuously discovered a second pit and third pit of warriors and horses .According to their research, all these three subterranean pits once linked together and covering an area of more than 20,000 square meters.
To bury an entire army of individual warriors under the ground was never heard in the world. This phenomenon was the evidence of the belief ''Serve the Death as well as the Living'' thus, the terra cotta warriors and horses were created to guard the Qin emperor's afterlife and at his command to conquer the other small kingdoms.
The museum construction started in 1976 and officially opened in 1979 of only pit 1 over the years, with continuous excavation on the new findings, today's museum is built upon a complex of approximately 120,000 square meters in Which there are three pits laying more than 8,000 terracotta infantry men, archers, cavalrymen and chariots arranged in actual battle formation, ready to defend their emperor's immortal soul. Each soldier is averagely 1.8 meters tall, with higher-ranking soldiers being taller, and made of 7.6cm-thick terracotta clay. Each part of the hollow body was made separately, while the trunk, limbs and hands were mass-produced, the head of each warrior was individually constructed and the face of each warrior is distinct (each facial expression was modeled after the real slave labors). It has been theorized sculptures show a high level of artistry with individualized facial expressions, hairstyles and clothing and was once brightly painted with black armor, colorful red scarves and green pants, though some of the colors have long faded. As warriors, they each held weapon, bronze swords, axes and spears- which were still sharp when discovered, and longbows and crossbows. The proportions of every single terra cotta warrior and horse are extremely accurate. From the placement, the hair and clothing styles and weaponry of the statues, visitors can vividly understand their rank and position. Some wear tunics, some carry shields and short weapons, some have their hair tied in a bun, some wear footwear while others do not, some have armor breastplates, some have fish scale amour. Soldiers with relatively long beards are placed at the rear, and this would be a glance that they are seasoned elder generals. In addition to infantry force there are also some cavalry members leading horses or driving chariots. Some of the soldiers are in the kneeling position ready to shoot their arrows: each has a special posture according to his duties.
Pit 1 covers an area of more than 14,000 square meters. There are more than 6,000 infantry warriors and horses among which about 1,000 have been pieced up, the rest of them are still in the process of being dug out of silt and pieced together. The army is arrayed in a rectangular formation facing east. In the very front are three rows of totally 210 warriors acting as the vanguards. Both sides of the formation have warriors flanked facing north and south to maintain the contingent for the sides while some solders were found at the very end facing backwards acting as real guards.
Pit 2 is the latest opened in 1996 which occupies more than 6,000 square meters, the army in this part was a mixture of infantry force, archery, chariots and cavalry. The only intact warrior was found in this pit as well as the chromium-coated sword was found in this pit in 1987.According to the archaeological survey, there more than 2,000 warriors and horses to be dug out and restored.
Pit 3: Being the smallest of only some 526 square meters, it is the headquarter of the whole army. Unlike the solider in fighting position in other pits, there are only 68 warriors and horses lined up in ceremonial formation. In addition, there were animal bones and deer horns found which follows the ancient Chinese tradition to kill animals as sacrifice to the heaven for blessing and wishing to win the war. Such superstitious practice was always conducted in the most important place and sponsored by the army command. Hence, Pit 3 is the head office of the whole terra cotta army.
The most astonishing among all the weapons found in the terra-cotta army is the bronze sword, which still glitters in metallic luster without rust, though they had been buried underground for more than 2,200 years. Being very sharp, the sword may cut through 20 pieces of paper put together. By technical examination, it reveals that the sword is composed of an alloy and tin, and more than 10 other rare metals. Further more, a thin layer of chromium was found as it was once plated on the sword (10-15 microns) which proves that the weapon was oxidized with chromium when they were made. Such technology was invented by westerners in the 20th century as being acknowledged, But such technique was already applied by Chinese people more than 2,200 years ago.
Two sets of large bronze chariots and horses were discovered in 1980 only about 20 meters to the west of Qin emperor's mausoleum. They had been enclosed in a huge wooden casket and collapsed in more than three thousand pieces. It was after two and half years of careful and pains-taking restoration by the experts and archaeologists, they were finally on display to all visitors inside the Museum of Terra-cotta army today.
Each of the bronze chariots was drawn by four bronze horses with a single shaft, they are the exact imitations of actual chariots and horses cast in half of the life size. Each of the chariots with horses consists of 3,400 components and weighing more than 1,200 KGs. As studied by the archaeologists, there are altogether 1,720 pieces of pure gold and silver used as ornaments on the chariots and horses, with a total weight of over 7 kilograms.
Being the largest bronze wares discovered in the history of world archeology, they enjoy the highest class and have the most complete harnessing wares. According to the preliminary research, the process of casting the bronze chariots and horses involves such different techniques as casting, welding, riveting, mounting, embedding and carving...etc. The discovery of them provides with us extremely valuable material and data for the textual study of the metallurgical technique in ancient China more than 2,200 years ago.