|Ornate Chinese furniture|
At last we were off, a short bus ride and then about a 15 minute walk from the parking area to the actual pits to view the army. I enjoyed the walk on this clear sunny day, a row of misty mountains forming a romantic backdrop to the site. Being part of a tour group has both advantages and disadvantages. You are obliged to visit commercial enterprises that don't really interest you but you also have immediate and preferential access to places of interest. We were through the gates in no time accompanied by a local guide who gave us an interesting talk about the history, origins and discovery of the army, prior to us entering Pit 1
|The vast Pit 1. Restored warriors in front, shattered warriors behind.|
|Fragments laid out ready for assembly ....|
|....and completed warriors.|
All the complete warriors have been painstakingly restored. It is estimated that this site contained 8000 warriors, 130 chariots, 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses. Most would have been carrying weapons although it appears many weapons were looted at or soon after their creation. Even so around 40,000 bronze items of weaponry, such as swords, daggers, spears and arrow heads have been discovered in and around the pits.
|How the pits appeared when uncovered. A jumble of parts caused by the collapsing roof.|
|The army was originally painted with |
vibrant lacquer like this. It must
have been an amazing sight
(Photo by Mary Harrsch)
Pit 1 is a vast and extraordinary sight but the other much smaller pits, 2 and 3, are no less interesting. Pit 2 is considered to be the most complete discovered so far as it contains infantries, cavalries, charioteers and archers. It covers 6000 square metres (7176 sq yards) with only approx one sixth of it excavated so far. The building housing Pit 2 also contains an exhibition hall where you can view some of the warriors and two spectacular bronze chariots close up.
|Newly restored and partly restored warriors and horses in Pit 1|
I was absolutely thrilled to view the Terracotta Army. It is, to my mind, one of the wonders of the ancient world. Although it has UNESCO protection it amazes me that it does not feature on lists of wonders of the world. I have always believed that we should not try to put our 21st century brain into the head of a person from earlier times to try and second guess their thinking. Was the creation of the army unbelievable narcissism, or was it something else? I guess we will never know. It did get me thinking, though, that if this was discovered as recently as 1974, quite by chance, what else is there as yet undiscovered in the world. Who knows?