A grand exhibit of antiquity (and WARHorses) opens next week in Seattle, Washington. “Terracotta Warriors: Guards for Eternity,” an exhibition that includes 10 of the famous life-size figures found guarding China’s first emperor’s tomb including a cavalryman and a charioteer and his horses.
What are the Terracotta Warriors?
In 1974 farmers in China were digging a well when they discovered a life-size torso made of clay. A mere morsel of the unimaginable history buried at their feet – the vast tomb of China’s first Emperor, Qin Shu Huang.
Qin Shi Huang ruled China from 221 to 207 BC. Among his many unifying advances he built a national road system, the Great Wall of China and his own city-sized mausoleum guarded by the life-sized Terracotta Army.
Ancient writings suggest that as many as 700,000 workers worked nearly 30 years on the mausoleum that scholars believe was unfinished when Qin Shi Huang died. The tomb is a 20 square mile compound that includes; 8000 soldiers, 150 cavalry horses, 130 chariots driven by 520 horses, a palace, offices, store houses, stables and of course the emperor’s tomb.
Qin Shi Huang’s tomb itself has remained sealed for 2200 years. There are concerns that fresh air may damage its contents and downright fear over another point. A Chinese historian wrote that “streams of mercury were inlaid in the floor of the burial chamber”. That appears to be true. Soil samples around the mound tested positive for mercury contamination. For now, there are no plans to enter the tomb and work continues recovering more buried figures and tending to their restoration.
The U.S. exhibit opens in Seattle next week and closes early next year in Philadelphia. Hopefully you will have a chance to see these ancient equestrian relics.
April 8 through September 4, 2017
Pacific Science Center, Seattle, Washington
September 30, 2017 through march 4, 2018
The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Photography Courtesy Pacific Science Center