This is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. It is a form of funerary art buried with the emperor in 210–209 BCE and whose purpose was to protect the emperor in his afterlife.
The figures, dating from approximately the late third century BCE, were discovered in 1974 by local farmers in Lintong District, Xi'an, Shaanxi province.
Farmers similar to the ones that discovered the terracotta army.
The Chariots mentioned below
The figures vary in height according to their roles, with the tallest being the generals. The figures include warriors, chariots and horses. Estimates from 2007 were that the three pits containing the Terracotta Army held more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, the majority of which remained buried in the pits nearby Qin Shi Huang's mausoleum.
The performers were found in other pits, among other non military officials.
Other terracotta non-military figures were found in other pits, including officials, acrobats, strongmen and musicians.
Work on the mausoleum began in 246 BCE soon after Emperor Qin (then aged 13) ascended the throne, and the project eventually involved 700,000 workers.
Gold similar to what would have been found in the mountain.
Mount Li was a favoured location due to its auspicious geology, "famed for its jade mines, its northern side was rich in gold, and its southern side rich in beautiful jade; the First Emperor, covetous of its fine reputation, therefore chose to be buried there
Sima Qian wrote that the First Emperor was buried with palaces, towers, officials, valuable artifacts and wondrous objects.
According to this account, 100 flowing rivers were simulated using mercury, and above them the ceiling was decorated with heavenly bodies below which were the features of the land.
Mercury, the substance the rivers were said to be made of.
High levels of mercury were found in the soil of the tomb mound, giving credence to Sima Qian's account.
Later historical accounts suggested that the tomb had been looted by Xiang Yu, a contender for the throne after the death of the first emperor. However, there are indications that the tomb may not have been plundered.
The Terracotta Army was discovered on 29 March 1974 to the east of Xi'an in Shaanxi province by farmers digging a water well approximately 1.6 kilometres (0.99 mi) east of the Qin Emperor's tomb mound at Mount Li
For centuries, occasional reports mentioned pieces of terracotta figures and fragments of the Qin necropolis.
This discovery prompted Chinese archaeologists to investigate, revealing the largest pottery figurine group ever found in China.
A museum complex has since been constructed over the area, with the largest pit enclosed within with a large structure.
The Terracotta Army is part of a much larger necropolis. Ground-penetrating radar and core sampling have measured the area to be approximately 38 square miles (98 square kilometers)
The necropolis was constructed as a microcosm of the emperor's imperial palace or compound, and covers a large area around the tomb mound of the first emperor. The earthen tomb mound is located at the foot of Mount Li and built in a pyramidal shape, and is surrounded by two solidly built rammed earth walls with gateway entrances. The necropolis consists of several offices, halls, stables, other structures as well as an imperial park placed around the tomb mound.
The warriors stand guard to the east of the tomb. Up to 5 meters (16 ft) 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 excavations near the Mount Li burial mound, archaeologists found several graves dating from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, where diggers had apparently struck terracotta fragments. These were discarded as worthless and used along with soil to back fill the excavations.