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Terra Cotta Army of Emperor Shi Huangdi Founder of Qin dynasty 221-206 BCE X’ian, China X’ian combines old & new China. The name means western capital. Old X’ian city wall . This is where the Silk Road caravans started.

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terra cotta army of

Terra Cotta Army of

Emperor Shi Huangdi

Founder of Qin dynasty

221-206 BCE

X’ian, China


Three pits were discovered and each contained some Terra Cotta soldiers. The soldiers are life size. Their clothing and hair styles help us understand social class divisions in Qin China. A topknot indicates an officer. There are over 7,000 soldiers in total.


The recent movie, “Hero”portrayed this chariot bringing the main character for his audience with Emperor Shi Huangdi. This model is smaller than in real life. Bronze was expensive .

The well at the right is how the army was discovered. In this pit were 6,000 soldiers in many small pieces.

Three farmers digging a well discovered these terra cotta figures below ground. They called in Chinese archaeologists who quickly uncovered the army and realized what this find meant. Legends had talked about it but everyone assumed it was just a story until 1974.


Today the surviving farmers are employed by the museum. In the summer, they sign autographs for tourists. They were only paid $500 for their land by the Chinese government so these jobs are also compensation for the finders for their honesty in reporting the find.


Qin battle formationNotice the broken soldiers at the top. This is how they look when first uncovered. They must be put back together piece by piece.