New warriors in China’s famous Terracotta army have been unearthed at the massive site. The Terracotta Army was dubbed the greatest archeaological find of the 20th century and now it has just gotten bigger. Ancient China has been a rich source of extraordinary finds for archaeologists, and the finds just keep on coming at the excavation site of the Terracotta Army.
The tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang was first discovered in 1974, quite accidentally, by farmers laboring in northwestern China. Since then, the dig has revealed many precious artifacts and treasures, including the Terracotta Army — thousands of small, sculpted soldiers meant to guard the emperor in the afterlife.
Experts say the soldiers date back to the 2nd century B.C., making them more than 2,000 years old. In addition to the small soldiers, archaeologists have found horses, chariots, weapons and other artifacts, each one incredibly well preserved.
Recently, an additional 200 warriors were uncovered in the soil at Pit #1, as one area of the massive site is called by experts. The area covers about 4,300 square feet, but is only part of the burial site, which experts believe covers approximately 38 square miles.
In addition to the 200 warriors, archaeologists found a dozen more clay horses, and pieces of two more chariots. This part of the site began to be explored in 2009; it contains 6,000 clay horses and soldiers found thus far, as well as weapons like swords and bows.
Archaeologists still express astonishment at how well kept the warriors and other artifacts are, and have, in the past, theorized that some remarkable anti-rust coating was responsible for their endurance. They now believe that it was something in the soil itself, rather than an applied coating, that is responsible for the artifacts’ incredible longevity and such perfect shape.
Marcos Martinon-Torres, of the University of Cambridge, one of the experts on the dig at Pit #1, told Newsweek in 2019, “In some ways, the Terracotta Army feels like an extraordinary playground for archaeologists. It is large, complex, well-preserved, meticulously excavated and great fun.
It raises countless questions that demand tailor-made collaborative approaches and keep all of us amused.” While the emperor’s dynasty lasted a mere 15 years — not long considering China’s ancient history — his reign is responsible for building the Great Wall of China, in addition to the Terracotta Army.
Experts say that, in addition to the Army, the huge site contains a large grave site, in which craftsmen and workers were laid to rest. They’ve also suggested that the complex likely took about 30 years to build. Alas, those same experts are still struggling to understand just how the site was built, the techniques used that enabled workers to complete such a sophisticated marvel so long ago. Chinese and British experts continue to work together to explain ways the burial site could have been constructed.
For years, they’ve examined the artistry, science and construction methods of ancient China to learn how they combined to “create something as large and sophisticated as the First Emperor’s Mausoleum,” said Martinon-Torres to Newsweek. “We were always fascinated by the possibility that Qin artisans might have used some super-advanced technology in order to preserve their weapons for the afterlife.”
He added that the “pioneering work” of Chinese scientists in the 1970s and 1980s was responsible for many gains in their knowledge. Now, however, scientists believe that environmental factors played a larger role in the site’s preservation that anyone first suspected. A high percentage of tin, for example, helped to preserve the artifacts and ward of time’s natural erosion.
But some of this is still speculative, as archaeologists continue to uncover more treasures, warriors and hidden gems buried with the Terracotta Army. As Martinon-Torres said, that is part of the challenge, and the “great fun” the massive burial site offers to researchers and archaeologists, those lucky enough to visit the awe-inspiring, ancient graves.