Credit: Kevin Poh

ON THIS DAY: 29 MARCH 1974: Farmers discovered the Terracotta Army

In 1974 local farmers digging a well near the Chinese city of Xian came across one of the greatest archaeological discoveries ever made. The discovery of a clay warrior figure soon revealed many more by state archaeologists. In fact there may be 8,000 terracotta figures in total, each individually modelled and purposely arranged in three pits to guard the tomb of the Chinese Emperor Qin Shi Huang Di (246-210 B.C.)

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 near Qin Shi Huang’s mausoleum. Other terracotta non-military figures were found in other pits, including officials, acrobats, strongmen, and musicians.

Photo credits: Peter Morgan, Broken Sphere, J Apron

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