February 18th, 2003

Terra-Cotta Army From Early Han Dynasty Is Unearthed

The Chinese have raised another army of remarkable dimensions, hundreds of foot-tall terra-cotta warriors, along with horses and chariots, that come from the depths of a tomb site south of Beijing. Archaeologists and conservators are working overtime to preserve the colorful painted decorations of the 2,000-year-old figurines as they are being exposed to air and removed from the ground.

This is not the first or the biggest such find. The most famous one, excavated in the 1970’s at a imperial tomb outside the city of Xian, included 7,000 terra-cotta figures of soldiers, all of them life-size. A second company of clay soldiers, including farm animals, was found in 1990 in the vicinity of Xian.

The Weishan site, as archaeologists are calling it, may spread over as much as 10,000 square feet, Archaeology magazine reported in its current issue. If so, excavators predicted, the site may hold several thousand of the figurines, an impressive funerary display indicating that this was the burial place of a nobleman or close relative of a ruler of the Han dynasty, one of China’s longest and most powerful, extending from 206 B.C. to A.D. 220. Experts said the tomb appeared to date from the first half of the Han rule.

cf. Egyptian Fax Chamber.

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