Saturday, October 1, 2016

Terra Cotta Warriors & Tang Dynasty Show in Xian

Another destination checked off my wanderlust list!  Thanks to local farmers digging a well, millions of people are able to view these wonderful full-size figures of clay warriors.  As always, I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to see our world's treasures.  

Think you know everything there is to know about this UNESCO World Heritage Site?

Here are 5 amazing facts about the Terra Cotta Army and its auxiliaries that I didn't know at the time of my visit last fall:
1.  China's first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, spent most of his life searching for immortality and built himself a burial complex.  The complex was the biggest in the world - and it was probably never completed.
2.  The clay soldiers remained untouched for more than 2000 years until 1974 when they were unearthed by Chinese farmers digging a well.  It is now believed that some 700,000 workers worked for nearly three decades on the mausoleum. So far, archaeologists have uncovered a 20-square mile compound, including 8,000 terra cotta soldiers, along with numerous horses and chariots, a pyramid mound marking the emperor's tomb, remains of a palace, offices, store houses and stables.  This is all located in Pit #1.  Yes, there are more pits.
3.  Qin was known for his brutishness: He ordered the killings of scholars whose ideas he opposed, and showed little regard for the life of the conscripts who built public works projects, including his burial complex. Numerous laborers and artisans lost their lives during its construction, while others were reportedly killed in order to preserve the secrecy of the tomb’s location and the treasures buried within.
4.  The emperor's tomb itself still hasn't been excavated. According to first century accounts, mercury streams were inlaid in the floor of Qin's burial chamber to simulate local rivers running through his tomb.  In 2005, hundreds of samples from the earthen burial chamber mound were tested and came back highly positive.  Debate continues over whether to evacuate the tomb at all and what methods should be used to protect the contents as well as the people working at the site.
5.  Construction of the tomb began when the Future Emperor of China took power at the age of 13.

The following photos are from Pit #1 where many workers guarded the area and excavated and tagged the statues.

Pit #2 is located 22 yards to the northeast of Terra Cotta Pit #1.  It is the most spectacular of the three pits.  Compared to Pit #1, the combat formations are more complex and the units of armed forces more complete.

Pit #3 lies 25 yards to the north of Pit #2.  This forms the headquarters of the garrison, exercising military control over men contained in the other two pits.  

After spending a few hours viewing the Terra Cotta Army, we drove through the city of Xian to see some more impressive statues.
In the evening, Gerry and I enjoyed a Tang Dynasty cultural performance with dinner.  Obviously, it was all so wonderful.  Such a great way to end a long day.

Um, no, we are not actually in the pit with these terra cotta marvels. We couldn't resist paying for one of those faux photos, but it does look awesome, doesn't it?

Safe travels,

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