Terra-Cotta Warriors is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. It is a form of funerary art buried with the emperor in 210–209 BC and whose purpose was to protect the emperor in his afterlife.
The figures, dating from approximately the late third century BC, were discovered in 1974 by local farmers in Lintong District, Xi'an, Shaanxi province. The figures vary in height according to their roles, with the tallest being the generals. The figures include warriors, chariots and horses. Estimates from 2007 were that the three pits containing the Terracotta Army held more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, the majority of which remained buried in the pits nearby Qin Shi Huang's mausoleum. Other terracotta non-military figures were found in other pits, including officials, acrobats, strongmen and musicians.
Terra-Cotta Warriors became the greatest archaeological discovery of the 20th century. The site is located 1.5 kilometers east of the Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor. The emperor's terra cotta army was found in three underground timber lined vaults. The Pit 1 contained chariots and six thousand figures of soldiers; the Pit 2 had fourteen hundred figures of cavalrymen, horses and infantrymen, along with ninety wooden chariots; whilst the Pit 3 contained about seventy figures of warriors. Excavating them has been a massive undertaking.
The museum covers an area of 16,300 square meters. Life size terracotta figures of warriors and horses arranged in battle formations are the star features at the museum. They are replicas of what the imperial guard should look like in those days of pomp and vigor.
Since Oct. 1st, 2010 the Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses and the Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum have been combined into one large attraction area, Emperor Qinshihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum, which also includes three other small sites opened in 2011. The Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum and the nearby three sites, namely the Museum of Terracotta Acrobatics, the Museum of Terracotta Civil Officials, and the Museum of Stone Armor, constitute the so-called Lishan Garden. Besides, 30 free shuttle buses have been available for visitors' convenience to travel between the Lishan Garden and the Museum of Qin Terracotta Warriors and Horses from then on.
The Terra Cotta Army is a sensational archeological find of all times. It has put Xian on the map for visitors. It was listed by UNESCO in 1987 as one of the world cultural heritages.