The eighth wonder of the world

15 04 2010

Yesterday we went to see the Terracotta Army.  The Terracotta Army is a whole army, current estimates say 8,000 man strong, constructed by Emperor Qin around the year 200 BC.  Most of the figures are full sized and every figure is unique in shape and facial features. 

The emperor constructed his army to support him in the afterlife.  The emperor didn’t stop there and built a whole city in addition to his army.  There are acrobats and musicians, all kinds of animals, offices and stables and everything that comes with a proper city.

The site was found by a couple of farmers digging for water some thirty years ago and stumbled onto the first pit.  Now three pits have been excavated but some archeologist believe that even more pits wait to be discovered.  I just wonder how many sites like this exist in the world – uncovered and hidden to everyone?

Getting to the site was very easy – just a bus straight from the train station.  There was a constant stream of visitors arriving at the gate, mostly Chinese tourists but also a few foreigners. 

After buying the tickets there is a twenty minute walk to the main sites.  Along the way there are several restaurants including KFC and Subway and a lot of shops selling stuff made from jade, stuff made from fox/wolf/mink skins and terracotta warrior replicas.  The whole place had a very commercial feel to it – in a nice way though.  I couldn’t resist all the sales people and bought a very nice skin hat – similar to the Mao hat I had previously bought ;)

After the walk we arrived at the main gate.  We had only heard the best things about the Terracotta Warriors so at this point we were very excited! 

The site consists of a museum and three excavation pits.  We started at the museum, which contained examples of what was found in the pits as well as explanations on how all the stuff was made, why it was made and by whom.  After the museum we headed for the smallest pit that gave us a taste of what was to come.  The second pit wasn’t that exiting and hasn’t been fully excavated.  The third pit is the main attraction and contains the real Terracotta Army. 

It was very impressive to see all those soldiers lined up like they were ready for battle.  It was also very interesting to see the archeologists still working on digging up more figures.  We were very impressed with the whole site and really happy that we came to see this wonder but I couldn’t resist the thought that maybe it has been hyped up a bit too much.

It is very interesting to see how the Chinese approach archeological discoveries like the Terracotta Army and others that we have seen here in China.  They have a different approach to what we are used to seeing, at least back home.  The Chinese don’t hesitate to rebuild and fix or even recreate artifacts and buildings without distinguishing the from the authentic artifacts.  This makes it sometimes difficult to differentiate between the old and the new or the authentic and the re-created.  At the same time it is of course really interesting to see how things looked like when they were first created and you can better see the whole picture when the blanks have been filled.

This site is a perfect example of how crazy us humans can get.  Why would someone want to build such a mausoleum for him self?  It has been estimated that construction the whole mausoleum involved some 700,000 workers and took several years.  At the same time it shows the power of the emperor and how prosperous his nation must have been being able undertake such a project.  What do you think?  How do you want your mausoleum to look like?



One response

7 03 2012

I had a comment about the Terracotta Army. There were over 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses and dated 210–209 BC.
Susposed to be the burial army for some ego maniac. China seems to more practical than that to me. I think historians pull some things out of thier backsides. haha. Im suggesting this. The great wall was dated around 221 BC or later. I think they ment the army to help man the great wall of china. Because of its massive 3,107 miles length, a 3000 man army to support the real troops maning the wall. Prob why each soldier had to be different and different builds as to mock real people. Maybe Im just some dumb hick but sometimes common sense prevails. I think the idea may have been scraped after all the effort was put in because of a change in leaders or just one of those seemed like a good idea at the time. So they burried them near the leader that came up with the idea. Appropriately.

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