On March 29, 1974, the first in an extensive collection of terra-cotta warriors was discovered in Xian, China. Local farmers came across pieces of a clay figure, and these shards led to the discovery of an ancient tomb, vast in its size and number of artifacts. The tomb was ordered to be built by Qin Shi Huangdi, the first emperor of China. The portion containing his remains are still unexcavated.

In the part of the tomb that has been excavated, thousands of sculptures of horses and warriors in full armor stand in battle formation. The warriors are life-size, with most about two-meters (six-feet) tall. The sculptures weigh up to 272 kilograms (600 pounds) each. Each warrior has unique characteristics—facial features, hairstyle, clothing, and pose.

In recent years, museums outside China have hosted exhibitions featuring a small number of the terra-cotta warriors. The warriors in Xian remain in their original positions facing east, the direction from which the emperor’s enemies had come.

armor
Noun

protective covering.

Noun

material remains of a culture, such as tools, clothing, or food.

characteristic
Adjective

particular feature of an organism.

display
Verb

to show or reveal.

elaborate
Adjective

complex and detailed.

emperor
Noun

ruler of an empire.

excavate
Verb

to expose by digging.

farmer
Noun

person who cultivates land and raises crops.

Qin Shi Huangdi
Noun

(259-210 BCE) first emperor of China.

sculpture
Noun

three-dimensional artwork that is carved, molded, or modeled to create its shape.

Terra Cotta Warriors
Noun

(~210 BCE) collection of thousands of life-size clay figures of soldiers, horses, chariots, and other artifacts in Xian, China, buried with Qin Shi Huangdi, China's first emperor.

tomb
Noun

enclosed burial place.

More Dates in History

March
MonTueWedThuFriSatSun
24 25 26 27 28 29 1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31 1 2 3 4 5