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China's Terra Cotta Army Re-Discovered

By Patrick Mondout

Perhaps the most spectacular archaeological find of the 20th century might never have been found but for a farmer's need for water in the spring of 1974. Peasants digging a well near Xi'an, China happened upon what was first thought to be "just" a tomb for a 2,100 year-old emperor. As archeologists began unearthing treasures, it soon became clear this was no ordinary tomb. Over 8,000 life-sized soldiers, 96 horses, and 11 chariots have been unearthed so far. Even after 25 years, archeologists are still finding more! Experts believe thousands more will be discovered.

These pottery soldiers have become known as the Terra-cotta (which is Latin for "baked earth") Soldiers. The soldiers, representing the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang's (259-210 BC) imperial guards, guard his Imperial Tomb in battle formation. Remarkably, the warriors have unique facial features and an array of weapons, poses, and heights.



Share Your Memories!

Do you have any interesting stories to tell about the Terra Cotta Warriors? Share your stories with the world! (We print the best stories right here!)

Your Memories Shared!

"I was fortunate enough to be able to see the display in 1977. My mom and I attended lectures at the Kimball Art Museum that taught us a lot about the Find, and the dynasties. Truly amazing every time I see an artical about this find I have to read it. I still have the T-shirt that they sold for the exhibit. (It doesn't fit me I was in 7th grade when that exhibit was in town, but just can't throw away t-shirts like that.)"


"Does anyone know the title of the movie that showed the Terra Cotta Army. In it they came to life and the character had to fight them?"

--Claudia Kirchner



President Reagan, standing behind a headless-soldier, and his wife visit the site on April 29, 1984.

Courtesy of NARA.

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