UPDATED: June-11-2012 More Terracotta Warriors Discovered in Northwest China Archeologists unearthed more than 310 pieces of cultural relicsfrom the No. 1 Pit of the Mausoleum of Emperor Qinshihuang during arecent excavation of the mausoleum of the first emperor afterChina's unification. The new discoveries include over 100 terracotta soldiers and warhorses, two sets of chariots, as well as some weaponry, drums and ashield, said Yuan Zhongyi, a well-known archeologist who took partin the excavation work. The shield is an exciting discovery, because no shields hadpreviously been found in the three pits of terracotta warriors,Yuan said. The shield, about 70 centimeters in height and 50 centimeters wide,was found on the right side of one of the chariots. |
Experts said the shield, which is twice as large as the bronzeshield found among bronze chariots and horses, is evidence of thesize of shields in the Qin Dynasty (221-206 B.C.), because thebronze chariots and horses were produced to be half the size ofreal ones. Vivid new discoveries Of the 102 terracotta warriors unearthed from 2009 up to May thisyear, eight are officials and one is a senior official, said XuWeihong, executive director of the excavation team. The armor of the officials is much more complicated than that ofordinary soldiers, and the patterns on the officials' armor aremore delicate and exquisite, Xu added. Meanwhile, more terracotta warriors with colorful embellishmentshave been discovered this time, marking another importantcharacteristic of this round of excavation. "Strictly speaking, every one of the terracotta figures wasdecorated with various colors," said Xu, a researcher with theMuseum of the Terracotta Warriors and Horses of Qin Shihuang.
There are three main reasons the color could have been strippedfrom the figures, said Yuan Zhongyi. He said that some of the terracotta warriors were submerged inwater and others were affected by the fire in the pits, which couldboth result in the loss of color. And the method for coloringTerracotta Warriors in the Qin Dynasty could also be to blame. "At that time, craftsmen would paint raw lacquer on them beforedecorating. After so many years, the lacquer separates from thebody, stripping off the color," said Yuan.
This time, the colors were much better preserved than in previousexcavations, although the colored parts of the figures' faces andclothes are quite small. The eyeballs of unearthed terracotta warriors are black and taupe,and one even has red eyes. More interestingly, eyelashes werepainted on one of the figures. Experts said that the newly-discovered terracotta figures havegiven weight to the saying that each warrior had a unique face andexpression, and that the colors vary on different parts.
Underground performance troupe In addition to the No. 1 Pit, the 9901 Pit, covering 880 squaremeters in the southeast part of the Mausoleum of EmperorQinshihuang, is another excavation site. The terracotta figures unearthed from the 9901 Pit are totallydifferent from the warriors and horses in the No. 1 Pit. Oneterracotta figure is holding his left arm with his right hand, andanother one is half-crouched.
According to Yu Chunlei, associate researcher at ShaanxiArchaeology Institute, the excavation of the 9901 Pit started inAugust last year, and one of the three tunnels has been opened andmore than 20 terracotta figures have been unearthed. Yu said the figures were badly damaged, so they were all discoveredin fragments and archeologists have been busy repairing them. The 20-plus terracotta figures were standing face-to-face. Thefigures facing south look quite strong and fat, while those facingnorth are much thinner, said Yu.
Meanwhile, a giant figure from the pit has attracted people'sattention. The headless figure is 2.2 meters tall and its foot,which was found nearby, is 32 centimeters in length. Experts said this figure is bigger than other ones in the pit andit could be as much as 2.5 meters tall if the figure's head werepresent, which would make him the Yao Ming, the famous Chinesebasketball player, of the Qin Dynasty. Zhao Huacheng, a professor of archeology from Peking University,said judging from the gestures and shapes of the terracotta figuresand the appliances found in the pit, the figures were performersentertaining the emperor. Zhao added that it remains unknown what, specifically, they wereperforming.
Signs of burning As excavation work progresses, experts have confirmed that firesburned in some of the pits. The colors of some terracotta figuresand the earth, as well as a large quantity of black charcoalresidue, are signs of burning. Experts have ruled out that fires were part of an ancient ritual,as just a few of the pits showed signs of burning, said Yuan. He said it might be the result of the actions of Xiang Yu, aprominent military leader and political figure during the late QinDynasty who was believed by some historians and archaeologists toset fire to the Mausoleum of Emperor Qinshihuang. Xiang led rebelforces against the Qin armies and was one of the key personsresponsible for the fall of the Qin Dynasty.
He said the excavation team found a large quantity of blackcharcoal residue left by the burning of wood and hemp rope, whichmeans the materials were burned not long after the mausoleum wasbuilt. Otherwise, things like wood and hemp rope would decay withtime, and could not turn into charcoal. Yuan added there is still no concrete evidence or findings tosupport his theories, and archeologists are still carrying outexcavation and research work. According to Cao Wei, president of Museum of the TerracottaWarriors and Horses of Qinshihuang, the excavation is the thirdsuch large-scale project approved by State Administration ofCultural Heritage.
The project started in June 2009, and will lastfor two or three more years. He said the precious cultural relics discovered during theexcavation process will provide more research materials and promotea deeper understanding of the terracotta armies. ' Since theTerra-cotta Army was discovered in 1974, 3 burial pits have beenexcavated, about 8,000 life-size clay warriors and horses have beenfound in the pits. The Museum of the Terra-cotta Army isconstructed on the site of its findings.
(Xinhua News Agency June 10, 2012).
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