Sunday, October 09, 2011
The Terracotta Army was discovered in the spring of 1974 to the east of Xi'an in Shaanxi province by a group of farmers when they were digging a water well around 1 mile (1.6 km) east of the Qin emperor's tomb mound at Mount Li (Lishan, a region riddled with underground springs and watercourses. For centuries, there had been occasional reports of pieces of terracotta figures and fragments of the Qin necropolis — roofing tiles, bricks, and chunks of masonry — having been dug up in the area. This most recent discovery prompted Chinese archaeologists to investigate, and they unearthed the largest pottery figurine group ever found in China.
View of the Terracotta Army.In addition to the warriors, an entire man-made necropolis for the emperor has also been found around the first emperor's tomb mound. The tomb mound is located at the foot of Mount Li as an earthen pyramid and the Qin Shi Huangdi’s necropolis complex was constructed as a microcosm of his imperial palace or compound. It consists of several offices, halls, stables and other structures placed around the tomb mound which is surrounded by two solidly built rammed earth walls with gateway entrances. Up to 5 meters (16 feet) of reddish, sandy soil had accumulated over the site in the two millennia following its construction, but archaeologists found evidence of earlier disturbances at the site. During the digs near the Mount Li burial mound, archaeologists found several graves dating from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, where diggers had apparently struck terracotta fragments which were then discarded as worthless back into the back-filled soil
According to historian Sima Qian (145-90 BC), work on this mausoleum began in 246 BC soon after Emperor Qin ascended the throne (then aged 13), and the full construction later involved 700,000 workers. Geographer Li Daoyuan, six centuries after the death of the First Emperor, recorded in Shui Jing Zhu that Mount Li was a favoured location due to its auspicious geology: "... famed for its jade mines, its northen side was rich in gold, and its southern side rich in beautiful jade; the First Emperor, envious of its fine reputation, therefore chose to be buried there".