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Sunday, August 30, 2009

EXTRA: The Terracotta Warriors, Xi'an, Shaanxi

Before visiting any temples in Xi'an, Shaanxi(陕西, 西安市), we
visited the Terracotta Warriors (兵马俑) site outside of the city.
Three days after my return from Shanghai, I arrived in the fabled ancient capital of Xi'an, this time with my wife in tow.

The plan was to see four of Xi'an's eight temples on my list, all of them inside or very near the city walls (and thus accessible by local buses). But at my wife's insistence, we started our trip far from the walls themselves--about 40 kilometers outside, in fact, in Lintong County at the site of the breathtaking Terracotta Warriors.

In the mists of time (about 210–209 BCE), the army was placed about 1.6 km to the east of the tomb of Qin Shi Huang. The first emperor to unify China, he lent his name to the country: "China" is an adaptation of "Qin," his name, and his dynasty's.

He has long been known for his varied contributions to Chinese culture, but one of the most spectacular has been known for less than 40 years. For it was in 1974 that some farmers were digging a well and came up with some surprisingly good artifacts. Of course, the area had long been known to produce a piece here and there. But this time, professional archaeologists got involved, and discovered to their astonishment a virtual city-- a "necropolis" in archaeological terms, a "city of the dead."

After taking a bus from the Xi'an train station, my wife and I were able to visit the three opened pits with their thousands of men and horses, as well as the associated museum and exhibits.

Inscribed on the UNESCO Heritage list 25 years ago, Emperor Qin's Terracotta Army is a must for any China travel itinerary.

(An edited version of this article was published in the Shenzhen Daily March 26, 2012.)

GPS Info:
  • 34.384069, 109.278817



Map:




GALLERY

The exterior of the main Exhibition Hall
Chariot, driver, and horses in the main Exhibition Hall
These items have been repaired and will be returned to their original positions
These items have also been repaired and are waiting to be re-placed
This "general" has a surprisingly modern look (postcard above)
Repaired soldiers and horses standing in place

Click here to visit the next article in chronological order || Click here to view the trip details

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