The Terracotta Army, known in Chinese as the "soldier and horse funerary statues," is one of the most astonishing archeological discoveries of the past few decades. Buried in 210-209 BC with Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi near the city of Xi'an, the army of statues was created, according to ancient beliefs, to help Quin continued his reign in the afterlife. Despite its antiquity, the figures were not discovered until 1974, and this happened as an accident as workers were drilling in the area and uncovered the colossal structure.
There are more than 8,000 life-size statues in the Terracotta Army, mostly representing soldiers and horses, but there are also chariots, weapons, and other objects. The statues are extremely detailed, with warriors wearing different uniforms according to rank, and featuring detailed faces and lifelike postures. They are also positioned according to precise military formation, obeying rules of rank.
The army is part of the Mausoleum for Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi, which includes a 83 yard (76 meter) tall pyramid believed to be a royal tomb. The tomb, however, remains unopened, as archeologists believe accessing the place will cause irreversible damage to the contents. The main entrance has yet to be found, which may also explain why archeologists are wary of causing damage to the structure by digging blindly around it. Qin’s necropolis also includes several halls and tunnels. The mausoleum alone took 38 years to complete and a large number of the workers who labored on it were buried alive inside the structure to protect the secrets of the place.
The Terracotta Army is now a popular tourist attraction. Housed inside a specialized hangar, it covers 5.43 acres (22,000 square meters) and is organized in 11 columns according to the army rank of the soldiers. Parts of it are housed in room-like compartments indicating different stages of battle.
For those who cannot afford a visit to China, replicas can be seen at the Forbidden Gardens in Texas. The British Museum in London also has a rotating exhibition showing 12 original Terracotta warriors.