Excavations on the Terracotta Army Site, Xi’an starting again

Terracotta Army Panorama by Noel (on Flickr)Chinese archaeologists started the third of a series of excavations at the famous terracotta army site on Saturday, hoping to find more clay figures and unravel some of the mysteries left behind by the “First Emperor“.

Archaeologists hope they might find a clay figure that appeared to be “in command” of the huge underground army, said Liu Zhancheng, head of the archeological team under the terracotta museum in Xi’an, capital of Shaanxi Province.

Liu and his colleagues are also hoping to ascertain the success of decades of preservation efforts to keep the undiscovered terracotta figures intact and retain their original colors. Richly colored clay figures were unearthed from the mausoleum of Qinshihuang, the first emperor of a united China, in previous excavations, but once they were exposed to the air they began to lose their luster and turn an oxidized grey.

British Museum - Terracotta Army of ReplicasThe excavation into the first and largest of the three pits at the site would last at least a year, said Wu Yongqi, curator of the museum. The 230 by 62-meter pit – part of the First Qin Emperor’s mausoleum – was believed to contain about 6,000 life-sized terracotta figures, more than 1,000 of which were found in previous excavations, said Wu.

The State Administration of Cultural Heritage has approved the museum’s dig of 200 square meters of the site, and the excavation is likely to continue if it proves fruitful. Most experts believe the pit houses a rectangular army of archers, infantrymen and charioteers that Emperor Qin Shi Huang hoped would help him rule in the afterlife. But Liu Jiusheng, a Chinese historian in Xi’an, claims it was an army of servants and bodyguards rather than warriors. His argument is still not widely accepted by other terracotta experts.

Personally, I believe they will find even more evidence that the Ancient Chinese invented ice hockey! 😉

via Xinhua News