China plans new terracotta army dig

Archaeologists hope to reveal more of the thousands of statues still buried.

    The terracotta army is one of China's most prized archaeological treasures [GALLO/GETTY]

    The army was originally painted in bright colours.

    Emperor Qin's terracotta army



     Built to guard the tomb of China's first emperor Qin Shihuang, who died in 210BC

     Tomb discovered by peasants digging a well near city of Xian in 1974

     More than 8,000 warriors are thought to guard the tomb

     To date 1,000 have been excavated, most have had to be pieced back together

     Warriors include archers, infantrymen, charioteers and horses as well as generals

    The new dig will be the third since the tomb was first uncovered by accident in 1974 by peasants digging a well outside the western city of Xi'an.

    The excavations will focus on a 2,000m square patch lying within the tomb's main pit that holds the main warrior force.

    It is thought the terracotta army was produced to protect the emperor in the afterlife.

    Qin, who died in 210BC aged 50, created China's first unitary state by conquering rival kingdoms.

    To control his empire he built an extensive system of roads and canals, while unifying standards of measurement and establishing a single written language and currency.

    He ruled China with an iron first, wiping out anyone he believed would challenge his rule, and was obsessed with immortality.

    His mausoleum under an artificial hill close to the site of the terracotta army has never been excavated.

    The chamber containing the emperor's body is rumoured to be protected by elaborate booby traps and contain a model of his empire complete with seas and rivers flowing with mercury.

    Most of the designers and construction workers involved in building the tomb are thought to have been buried alive with the emperor to protect the structure's secrets.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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