Terracotta Army – The Incredible Number of Soldiers Unearthed

Tourist Attractions

By Charlotte Williams

The Terracotta Army is one of the most remarkable archaeological discoveries in the world. This incredible army of terracotta soldiers was created to accompany China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, in the afterlife. But just how many soldiers were there? The exact number is still a subject of debate among historians and archaeologists.

According to historical records, there were originally around 8,000 terracotta soldiers, along with 130 chariots and 520 horses. However, since the discovery of the army in 1974, excavation work has revealed that the number is much larger than initially estimated.

The actual number of terracotta soldiers is believed to be over 8,000, with some estimates ranging as high as 10,000. These life-sized figures were meticulously crafted with individual details, such as facial expressions and hairstyles, making each soldier unique. It is a testament to the incredible skill and craftsmanship of the artisans who created them.

Although a significant portion of the Terracotta Army has been excavated, much still remains buried underground. It is estimated that only about one-third of the entire army has been uncovered so far. As excavation work continues, the number of terracotta soldiers will likely increase, further adding to the awe and wonder of this extraordinary archaeological site.

The Discovery of Terracotta Army

The discovery of the Terracotta Army is considered one of the most significant archaeological findings of the 20th century.

In 1974, a group of farmers in Xi’an, China, were digging a well when they stumbled upon a collection of life-sized terracotta figures. These figures turned out to be part of an elaborate underground army built to accompany the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, in the afterlife.

It is estimated that there are over 8,000 terracotta soldiers, as well as horses, chariots, and weapons, spread across three separate pits. Each figure is unique, with different facial expressions, hairstyles, and attire, reflecting the diversity of the Qin dynasty.

The discovery of the Terracotta Army has provided valuable insights into the military and cultural practices of ancient China. It has also shed light on the immense power and ambition of Qin Shi Huang, who united China for the first time and created a vast empire.

Since its discovery, the Terracotta Army has become a major tourist attraction, drawing visitors from around the world to marvel at the intricate craftsmanship and historical significance of these ancient sculptures.

The Ancient Emperor’s Fascination

The terracotta army discovered in the mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shi Huang is a testament to the incredible fascination that the ancient emperor had with eternal life and protection in the afterlife.

Emperor Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China, ruled during the Qin dynasty from 221 to 210 BCE. He believed that in order to rule in the afterlife, he needed a large army that he could take with him. This led to the creation of the terracotta army.

The terracotta army consists of thousands of life-sized soldiers, horses, and chariots. Each soldier is unique and meticulously crafted with incredible attention to detail. The soldiers were created to protect the emperor in the afterlife and continue his rule in the spiritual realm.

It is estimated that there are over 8,000 soldiers in total. However, archaeologists believe that there may be many more soldiers and other figures still buried and waiting to be discovered. The mausoleum is vast, and there are countless chambers and underground passages that have yet to be fully explored.

The terracotta soldiers were not just military figures; they were also a representation of the emperor’s power and authority. The soldiers were armed with real weapons, including swords, spears, and crossbows, which were believed to be functional in the afterlife.

The discovery of the terracotta army has provided invaluable insights into the beliefs, artistry, and technology of the ancient Chinese civilization. It is a remarkable testament to the power and grandeur of Emperor Qin Shi Huang, whose fascination with eternal life and protection in the afterlife led to the creation of one of the most extraordinary archaeological finds in history.

Archaeological Excavation Process

The archaeological excavation process of the Terracotta Army site in Xi’an, China was a complex and meticulous operation that spanned many years. It involved a series of steps aimed at preserving and uncovering the ancient treasures buried underground.

1. Surveying the Site: The first step in the excavation process was a detailed survey of the site, using various tools and techniques to map out the area. This involved measuring and recording the location, size, and depth of each pit containing the terracotta soldiers.

2. Setting up Grids: Once the survey was completed, archaeologists set up a grid system to divide the site into smaller sections. This helped organize the excavation process and ensured that every area was thoroughly explored.

3. Removing the Soil: Using shovels, brushes, and other hand tools, archaeologists carefully removed the layers of soil covering the terracotta soldiers. This was a delicate process, as any damage to the fragile statues could result in the loss of valuable historical information.

4. Documenting Finds: As each terracotta soldier was unearthed, it was carefully documented and photographed. This documentation included details such as its location, position, and any distinguishing features. It was crucial for understanding the layout and design of the army.

5. Cleaning and Restoration: Once removed from the ground, the terracotta soldiers underwent a thorough cleaning process. Any dirt or debris was carefully removed, and any broken pieces were meticulously restored and reconstructed.

6. Preservation and Display: After the cleaning and restoration process, the terracotta soldiers were carefully preserved and prepared for display. They were placed in specially designed showcases to protect them from further damage and to allow visitors to admire their beauty.

Overall, the archaeological excavation process of the Terracotta Army was a complex and time-consuming endeavor. It required the expertise and dedication of a team of archaeologists and conservationists to ensure the preservation and understanding of this remarkable historical site.

The Number of Soldiers Unearthed

The Terracotta Army, discovered in 1974, is one of the most significant archaeological finds in the world. These life-sized statues were crafted to accompany the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, in the afterlife. The number of soldiers unearthed from the site is truly astonishing.

According to historical records and current excavations, it is estimated that there are more than 8,000 individual terracotta soldiers. These soldiers are positioned in battle formations and organized in different pits within the extensive burial complex.

The largest pit, known as Pit 1, is the most impressive and holds the majority of the soldiers. It is estimated to have over 6,000 soldiers, as well as horses, chariots, and other weapons of the Qin army.

Pit 2 and Pit 3 also contain a significant number of terracotta soldiers, although they are smaller in size compared to Pit 1. Pit 2 is estimated to have around 1,400 soldiers, while Pit 3 has about 68 soldiers.

Excavations are ongoing, and it is believed that there are still many more soldiers waiting to be discovered. The scale and craftsmanship of the terracotta army demonstrate the immense power and attention to detail of the Qin Dynasty.

Visiting the Terracotta Army Museum provides a unique opportunity to witness the incredible quantity and quality of these ancient artworks, giving a glimpse into the grandeur and military might of ancient China.

Historical Significance and Importance

The Terracotta Army holds immense historical significance and is considered one of the most important archaeological discoveries of the 20th century. These terracotta soldiers were created to accompany the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, in the afterlife.

Qin Shi Huang was the founder of the Qin dynasty and the first emperor to unify China. His reign lasted from 221 BC to 210 BC, and his great accomplishments included the standardization of writing, currency, and measurements. He was also known for the construction of the Great Wall of China and the Great Tomb, which houses the Terracotta Army.

The discovery of the Terracotta Army in 1974 by local farmers was a groundbreaking event that shed light on China’s ancient history and the grandeur of the Qin dynasty. The army consists of thousands of life-sized clay soldiers, horses, and chariots, all meticulously crafted and individually designed. Each figure is unique, with different facial expressions, hairstyles, and armor, reflecting the diversity and complexity of the Qin army.

The presence of the Terracotta Army in the emperor’s tomb was believed to protect and accompany him in the afterlife, as a reflection of the power and authority he held in life. The army’s sheer scale and attention to detail demonstrate the emperor’s desire for everlasting glory and his belief in the importance of the afterlife.

Beyond its historical significance, the Terracotta Army is also important for the invaluable insight it provides into the military, culture, and artistic achievements of the Qin dynasty. The excavation of the army has revealed important information about ancient Chinese warfare, armor, and battle tactics. The intricate craftsmanship and artistic skill displayed in the sculptures have also contributed to a deeper understanding of Qin dynasty art and culture.

Today, the Terracotta Army is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a major tourist attraction in China, drawing millions of visitors each year. It continues to captivate people with its historical, cultural, and artistic significance, serving as a testament to China’s rich and ancient civilization.

Number of Terracotta Soldiers Number of Horses Number of Chariots
Over 8,000 Over 500 Over 130

An Unparalleled Scale of Artistic Expression

The sheer scale of the Terracotta Army is truly breathtaking. No other artistic endeavor in ancient or modern history can rival the grandeur and meticulousness of this monument. With an estimated total of over 8,000 life-sized statues, the Terracotta Army is a testament to the skill and dedication of the artisans who created it.

Each soldier is unique, with distinctive facial features, hairstyles, and garments. The attention to detail is astounding, with intricate carvings and painting on each individual statue. These artistic expressions not only showcase the technical prowess of the artisans, but also provide insight into the cultural and social practices of the time.

Furthermore, the vast number of soldiers is a testament to the ambition and power of the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang. It took over 700,000 workers more than 36 years to complete the construction of the army. Such a massive undertaking speaks to the magnitude of this artistic endeavor and the importance placed on eternal protection in the afterlife.

The Terracotta Army stands as a testament to the capabilities of ancient Chinese artisans and the significance of art as a means of expression. It serves as a reminder of the rich history and cultural heritage of the region, and continues to captivate visitors from all over the world.


The incredible history of China’s terracotta warriors – Megan Campisi and Pen-Pen Chen

Photo of author

Charlotte Williams

Charlotte Williams, a cosmopolitan writer based in Wilmington, is the ultimate local expert for family travel at TravelAsker. Drawing on her extensive global experiences, from Paris to Bali, her articles are a treasure trove of invaluable information. With an intimate knowledge of Wilmington’s attractions, resorts, hotels, activities, and restaurants, she adds a maternal touch to her work, guiding readers towards creating cherished family memories in Delaware and beyond.

Leave a Comment