Terracotta Army Facts

7 Cool Facts You May Not Know about the Terracotta Army

1. Terracotta Army has 4 instead of 3 pits and various accessory pits.

Tourists are most familiar with the Pit 1, Pit 2 and Pit 3 of Terracotta Army. These three pits boast more than 8,000 Terracotta Warriors, terracotta horses, chariots and many bronze weapons. However, few people have ever heard of Pit 4. That’s because this pit doesn’t have any terracotta statue but only backfilled soil. Some people guess that the construction of Pit 4 was interrupted by the farmers’ uprising during the late Qin Dynasty (221BC-207BC). Others hold that the Pit 4 was originally designed this way, in order to supply soil for other pits. Nowadays, the Pit 4 is not open to tourists. Apart from these four main pits, Terracotta Army also has numerous accessory pits. For example, Pit K0006 has many civil official figures and potteries; Pit K0007 has beautiful bronze aquatic birds; Pit K9801 unearths stone armors and helmets; and Pit K9901 has the famous acrobatic figures. There are also Stable Pits, Slaughter Pits, Rare Birds and Animals Pit, etc.
 

2. Its construction lasted nearly 40 years.

Qin Shi Huang (259BC-210BC), the first emperor in Chinese history, asked people to build his mausoleum as soon as he came into power in 247BC. As the most important grave goods, the Terracotta Army was started to be built in 246BC, and the construction stopped in 208BC, lasting for 38 years. Isn’t is a cool fact about the Terracotta Army? Thanks to the efforts of countless Qin craftsmen for 38 years, we can now appreciate the august Terracotta Army in three main pits, as well as other carefully-designed bronzewares and potteries in accessory pits. Such an unparalleled spectacle makes UNESCO list Terracotta Army and Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum together as the eighth wonder of the world.
 

3. It was accidently found when villagers were drilling well.

There is a village called Xiyangcun north of the Terracotta Army. In March, 1974, in order to relieve the water shortage, villagers decided to drill several wells in the southwest area. When people were just digging the surface of the ground, they noticed that the soil was unusually hard and kind of dark. With people digging deeper, a damaged clay figure with armors gradually appeared, together with a few arrows and bricks. Villagers were so scared that they stopped digging, and one person instantly reported this situation to the cultural department. Before long, three archaeologists rushed to the spot and collected the brown soil, damaged pieces and bronze arrows. After examination, archaeologists announced to dig this area on a large scale. To everyone’s astonishment, more and more terracotta figures and horses were dug out. And this area later became the famous Pit 1 of Terracotta Army.
​ Read more: Discovery of Terracotta Warriors in 1974
 

4. All the Terracotta Warriors used to be colorful.

Though most of the exhibited Terracotta Warriors now have khaki or brown color, the fact is that they used to be colorful at the beginning. Archaeologists have found that Qin craftsmen definitely painted Terracotta Warriors with more than ten colors, such as white, black, orange, dark green, scarlet, pink and purplish red. So, how come all these colors totally fade away? There are two reasons. Firstly, since these figures had been buried for more than 2,200 years and suffered natural erosion, flood, fire and other extreme conditions, the colorful coatings on their surface became very fragile and easy to fall off. The second reason is that, even though the paintings didn’t fall off, they would be instantly oxidized by air as soon as they were dug out and fell off in several minutes after being exposed to the air. That’s why archaeologists now will first spray protective agent on the Terracotta Warriors and then go on digging. Other modern techniques like fixing fallen paintings can also restore the original look of Terracotta Warriors as much as possible.
 Read more: True Colors of Terracotta Warriors
 

5. There are no same Terracotta Warriors.

It is incredible that although all the Terracotta Warriors are neatly arranged into an integral whole, each figure has its uniqueness in terms of face shape, hairstyle and headgear, etc. For example, generals wear one-plate crown or double-plate crown; cavalry warriors usually wear a little round hat; and others wear hoods or nothing. Also, some warriors have cone buns while others have flat buns. If you carefully observe these figures at the scene, you can easily tell apart the juniors and seniors through their expressions and gestures. Because the details like wrinkles or frowning on their face are very obvious.
 
Considering the fact of the limited amount of craftsmen at that time, how did they manage to produce more than 8,000 figures all different from each other? The most plausible answer given by scholars is that, these Terracotta Warriors were made on standard molds, but their facial details were carved individually.
 

6. Unearthed weapons are still in good condition after more than 2,200 years.

Unearthed Terracotta Army weapons are mainly crossbows, swords, spears, arrows and dagger-axes. Most of them are bronzewares made of copper and tin. Normally, metals are easy to rust. However, those bronze weapons in Terracotta Army remain incredibly intact after being buried for more than 2,200 years! How come? Some researchers once discovered the chemical element chromium on the weapons’ surface, and speculated that it was an anti-rust technique of Qin craftsmen. However, later it has been proved that the chromium is just a coincidence from the lacquer on the Terracotta Warriors. Though no answer has been found about why these weapons don’t rust, several guesses are very reasonable. Some people believe that their high tin content and quenching process improved the weapons’ hardness and resilience, which can slow down rusting. Other people consider that the surrounding yellow soil is alkaline, thus prevents the acid erosion.
 Read more: Advanced Anti-rust Chromium Plate on Terracotta Army Weapons? Just Coincidence!
 

7. Bronze Chariots and Horses represent the advanced craftsmanship at that time.

Once come to visit Terracotta Army, you can’t miss the Bronze Chariots and Horses, because this exhibit represents the most advanced craftsmanship at that time. There are two groups of them and each has one chariot pulled by four horses. The reason why it was advanced is that all the original components can still work so far. Take No.1 Bronze Chariot and Horse as an example, it has 3,064 components and is fully equipped with crossbow, sword and shield. Its most sophisticated design can be the movable umbrella on the chariot. This umbrella is assembled by flexible hinge, thus it can tilt 45 degree at any direction. Also should be noticed is the bronze horse’s neck ring. This neck ring is made of gold and silver. As we know, these two metals have different melting points, thus are difficult to be smelted together. How come Qin craftsmen did it and only left a very thin seam at that time? Not to mention that this exhibit also boasts the earliest gear and dormant lock in the world.
 
- Last modified on Apr. 13, 2020 -
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