In March, 1974, the villagers from Xiyang Village of Yanzhai Township in Lintong District accidentally discovered many broken pottery figures while sinking a well 1.5 kilo-metres away east of Emperor Qin Shihuang's Mausoleum. After archaeological excava- tion and textual research, it was found that this was'an oblong pit in which were buried terra-cotta warriors and horses from the Qin Dynasty. In 1976, after drilling, another two pits were discovered respectively 20 metres and 25 metres north of the former one. They were numbered Pit 1, 2 and 3 respectively in order of discovery, with a total area of 22,780 square metres.
This new discovery stirred up a sensation across the whole world. In order to protect properly those rare but valuable historical relics, in 1975, the State Council gave permission that a museum covering an area of 16,300 square metres be constructed on the site of Pit No. 1. The museum was officially open to the public on Oc- tober 1--National Day, 1979. The exhibition hall of Pit No. 3 was open to the public on September 27, 1989. The exhibition hall of Pit No. 2 was also open to the public in October, 1994. The mu- seum and the mausoleum are listed as one of the ten historical places in China and they are also placed by the UNESCO among the world's cultural legacies
Pit No. 1
is in an oblong shape, 230 metres long from east to west, 62 metres wide from north to south and 5 metres deep, cov ering an area of 14,260 square metres. It is an earth-and-wood structure in the shape of a tunnel. There are five sloping entrances on the eastern and western sides of the pit respectively. Down inside the tunnel, there are ten earth-rammed partition walls, across which huge and strong rafters were placed, then covered with mats and fine soil and filling earth. The floors are paved with bricks. The terra-cotta warriors and horses in Pit No. 1 are arrayed in a practical battle formation.
In the long corridor to the east end of the pit stand facing east three rows of terra-cotta warriors in battle tunics and puttees, 70 in each, totalling 210 altogether. Armed with bows and arrows, they constitute the vanguard. There is one row of warriors in the south, north and west of the corridor respectively, facing outward. They are probably the flanks and the rear guard. Holding crossbows and arrows and other long-distance shooting weapons, they took up the job of defending the whole battle formation. The ten rammed partition walls divided Pit No. 1 into eleven latitudinal passage ways where stand facing east 38 columns of warriors with horse-drawn chariots in the centre. The warriors, armourclad, holding long-shaft weapons are probably the main body of the formation and represent the principal force. There are altogether 27 trial trenches. According to the density of the forma- tion in each trial, it is assumed that more than 6,000 clay warriors and horses could be unearthed from Pit No. 1, most of which are in- fantrymen.
Pit No. 2
is located 20 metres to the north of the eastern end of Pit No. 1. The Pit is L--shaped and consists of four different mixed military forces in four arrays. It is estimated that there were over 1, 000 pieces of pottery figures, 500 horse-drawn chariots and saddled horses. The pit is measured 6,000 square metres. The first array, i.e. the eastern protruding part of the pit, is compod of 334 archers. To the south of the pit is the second array, including the first through the eighth passage ways, it is composed of 64 chariots,each of which carries three warriors. The third array, i.e.
the middle of the pit, including the ninth through the eleventh passage ways is composed of 19 chariots and 100 infantrymen. The fourth array to the north of the pit, including the l2th through the 14th passage ways is composed of six chariots, 124 saddled horses and cavalrymen. The four arrays are closely connected to constitute a complete battle formation and can be divided up to act independently, capable of attacking and defending and of self-protection and quick response. Three of the four arrays in Pit No. 2 have chariots and warriors. The chariots took up most of battle formation. This proves that chariots and warriors were the principll fighting forces in the Qin Dynasty. The wooden chariots have become decayed with age, but the tongues and wheels left clear traces in the clay. The bronze parts of the chariots remained intact.
Pit No. 3
is located 25 metres to the north of Pit No.1 and to the west of Pit No. 2. The plane of the pit is of concave shape totalling about 520 square metres. Out of the pit were unearthed one chariot, four terra-cotta horses and 68 clay armoured warriors. To its east, there is a sloping entrance, 11.2 metres long, 3. 7 metres wide, opposite which is a chariot and horse house. On both sides of the house, there is a winging room, in which were unearthed 64 pottery figurines. The arrangement of the pottery figurines is quite different from that in Pits No. 1 and No. 2 in which the warriors are placed in battle formation. But those in Pit No. 3 are arrayed opposite to each other along the walls, in two rows. Even the weapons held by the warriors in Pit No. 3 are different from those in Pits No. 1 and No. 2. The latter were armed with long-range across bows and arrows and short weapons such as spears, barbed spears, swords and axes. In Pit No. 3 were only discovered one kind of weapon called "shu", which had no blades and are believed to be used by the guards of honour. Unearthed also in this pit were a remaining deer-horn and animal bones. This is probably the place where sacrificial offerings and war prayers were practiced. Judging by the layout of Pit No. 3, it is most likely the headquarters directing the mighty underground army.
The bronze chariots drawn by four horses, with a single shaft, were placed one before the other vertically. The front chariot, i. e. No. 1 Chariot was named "High Chariot". The charioteers and passengers all stood in the chariot. The back chariot, i.e. No. 2 Chariot was named "Security Chariot", and also called "air-conditioned chariot". It has a front room and a back room, between which there is a partition. The front room is for the charioteer and rear one, for the master (emperor). In the rear compartment, there is a window on either side of the carriage as well as in the front with a door at the back. The windows and doors could close and open easily. The small holes on the windows were used for ven- tilation. On top of the chariot ,there was an elliptical umbrella--like canopy. The chariot was colour-painted against a white back- ground. No. g Chariot was fitted with more than 1,500 pieces of silver and gold and other ornaments, looking luxurious, splendid and graceful. Probably it was used for Emperor Qin Shihuang's soul to go out on inspection. No. 1 Chariot was equipped with crossbows, arrow heads, shields and the charioteer wore a hat, which shows that this chariot was employed to protect the No. 2 Chariot behind.
The bronze chariots and horses were the earliest and most exquisitely made bronze valuables. They enjoy the highest class and have the most complete harnessing wares. They are also the largest bronze ware discovered in the history of world archaeology. The ex- cavation of the bronze chariots and horses provides extremely valuable material and data for the textual research of the metallurgical technique, the mechanism of chariots and technological modelling of the Qin Dynasty.
Photos of Terracotta Warriors