When most people hear mention of the Terracotta Army they think of a group of actual living people who make up a great foreign military campaign somewhere. But the Terracotta Warriors are actually a collection of sculptures that represent one of the great armies of ancient China that are now on display for the public in Xian, China.
The Terracotta Warriors are one of the premier exhibits in all of China. There are over 8,000 statues of soldiers, more than 600 statues of horses, and 130 battle chariots all made with earthen clay and carved with meticulous attention to detail. The collection was discovered in 1974 by Chinese farmers who found the statues buried beneath the earth that they were cultivating for crops at the time.
Not all of the statues were discovered at the same time. It took several years to unearth the entire collection and once all the pieces had been found it was considered one of the most significant archaeological discoveries of the 20th century.
The Terracotta Army was the military force of China's very first Emperor Qin Shi Huang. The statues of the army are believed to have been created at some point during the 3rd century BC and were buried with Emperor Qin when he died.
Today there are several companies in the Xian area that offer fascinating tours which include a visit to the site at which the Terracotta Warriors are kept on display. The tours are conducted by knowledgeable and experienced guides and most tours begin with a short documentary film about the Qin Dynasty.
Emperor Qin's tomb is still intact and is an integral part of the Terracotta Warrior tours. It has remained unopened since being discovered with the statues and is the world's largest underground royal tomb.
China is a country with a long and very rich and eclectic history and one of the most fascinating elements of that history is that of its first Emperor and his vast army of Terracotta Warriors.