The Short History Of The Chinese Terracotta Warriors



In 1974 some Chinese farmers digging for a new well, stumbled upon one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of the century. This discovery comprised of over 8000 life size ancient terracotta warriors together with the tomb of the Emperor himself.


This emperor was Qin Shi Huangdi, the funder of the Qin dynasty and the first emperor who unified the whole of China. In 246 BC he became the king of the Qin province. He ruled for 36 years, during which time he devised a standardized a standard weighing system, a nation wide alphabet and began construction for one of the greatest constructions of the world: The Great Chinese Wall.

Since the first year of his rule he began construction of his tomb which is comprised of several chambers which house some 6000 life size soldiers, each weighing several hundred pounds, some 130 chariots, some 600 horses and a separate room for the high command. Some other chambers contain figures of musicians, acrobats, government officials, exotic animals and different objects, suited for whatever awaited the emperor in the afterlife.

Terracotta army

The really outstanding thing is that every soldier or horse is unique from one another, each with different features, mimicking a real army. It is believed that some 720,000 workers were employed for this mega-project. Initially each warrior was painted in bright colors, but over time these colors have faded and now only the reddish color of the terracotta remains.


Less than a mile away, the actual tomb of the emperor was discovered and is reported to hold palaces, precious stones and different artifacts, as well as mountains made out of copper and rivers of mercury. But until a safe way to excavate this site is not found, government officials will keep this archeological marvel burried for future generations.


Thanks to TED-Ed in collaboration with Megan Campisi and Pen-Pen Chen we were able to bring you the wonders of the Chinese ancient world.