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Ancient Chinese Technology and Art: Terra Cotta Army Susan Daly Greece Central Schools Arcadia High School Rochester,New York National Council for Social Studies National Conference in Kansas City November 19,2005
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My opportunity to travel and study in China, came about through the NCTA’s program of seminars for teachers. In 2002, I took a seminar in Rochester, through the Five Colleges Center for East Asian Studies at Smith College and then applied for and was then selected for the July, 2004 study tour of China.This opportunity allowed me to experience China for three weeks with 23 other teachers.
Our study tour took us across China to 9 cities and countless historical places. Because China is such a huge country, in 3 weeks , we only scratched the surface by seeing many of the most famous places. We stayed on the campus of Beijing University where we had several lectures by professors.
At the High School level,this presentation is intended forAP World historyGlobal History,including inclusive classes.It could also apply to some Middle school content areas.
Most of my students know about 2 things from China. The Great Wall and the Terra Cotta Army. They are fascinated by both because of the scale of each. X’ian , where the army is located , means western capital. It was the starting point for the Silk Roads.
In 1974, several farmers digging a well found the Terra Cotta Army in their field. They called in local authorities to examine the pieces they had uncovered. As they dug into this field , the archaeologists uncovered the army.They found 3 pits , each with different soldiers in them.
The farmers who found the site in 1974, were paid about $500 for their land by the government. Today ,they work signing autographs for tourists who visit it and are paid a salary by the Chinese government.
There are 3 large pits at this site. Pit 1 covers an area of 16,000 square meters . It is covered in a huge dome.Pit 2 covers an area of 7,100 square meters and includes bronze chariots.Pit 3 covers an area of 4,282 square meters and is the least excavated.
How long would it have taken to create over 7,000 separate soldiers out of clay ?What fuel would have been needed to fire these clay figures to make them into terra cotta ?
Tera cotta is a hard semifired waterproof ceramic clay. When the warriors were first found, they were brightly painted. Since that time, the paint has been slowly disappearing. Archaeologists do not understand exactly what is causing the damage.
When archaeologists work at putting the soldiers back together, they find potential pieces and create a bundle of them for each one. Then the workers searches for the location of a specific piece. If they find ONE PIECE in a day, they are very happy. Putting this gigantic puzzle back together will be the life’s work of many archaeologists.
Every soldier has a unique face so the potters making them were probably modeling each one after a specific person. What can we learn 2200 years later about China at this time from these figures?
Archaeologists believe that each figure would have been fired at approximately 100 C in a kiln for a week. The figures were broken when wooden roof beams collapsed on top of them after a fire in antiquity.
The Terra Cotta Army was created in the neighboring mountains. Chinese archaeologists have found the kilns used to bake the statues.For the army, individual soldiers can be used to identify the area they came from through clothing design.
Since bronze was expensive, the horses and chariot are smaller than life size. This chariot was recently shown in the movie “ Hero” . It brought the main character to a visit with Qin Shi Huangdi.
In 1987, the Terra Cotta Army was placed on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. The site has been visited by approximately 40 million people in 20 years. It welcomes 1,500,000 visitors a year.
5. How would these figures be moved from the kilns in the mountains to the tomb site?6. What happened to the final workers once all of the army was in place?7. Baked clay fires at temperatures ranging from 500 C to 1150 C. How would this many kilns have impacted the local climate ?
Chinese archaeologists know the location of Shi Huangdi’s tomb. They are waiting to open it, in hopes that future technology will allow more information to be discovered once it is opened.It also is supposed to have MANY unpleasant surprises inside.