The incredible history of China’s terracotta warriors – Megan Campisi and Pen-Pen Chen

The incredible history of China’s terracotta warriors – Megan Campisi and Pen-Pen Chen


What happens after death? Is there a restful paradise? An eternal torment? A rebirth? Or maybe just nothingness? Well, one Chinese emperor thought
that whatever the hereafter was, he better bring an army. We know that because in 1974, farmers digging a well
near their small village stumbled upon one of the most important
finds in archeological history: vast underground chambers
surrounding that emperor’s tomb, and containing more than 8,000
life-size clay soldiers ready for battle. The story of the subterranean army
begins with Ying Zheng, who came to power as the king
of the Qin state at the age of 13 in 246 BCE. Ambitious and ruthless, he would go on to become
Qin Shi Huangdi, the first emperor of China
after uniting its seven warring kingdoms. His 36 year reign
saw many historic accomplishments, including a universal system
of weights and measures, a single standardized writing script
for all of China, and a defensive barrier that would
later come to be known as the Great Wall. But perhaps Qin Shi Huangdi
dedicated so much effort to securing his historical legacy because he was obsessed
with his mortality. He spent his last years
desperately employing alchemists and deploying expeditions
in search of elixirs of life that would help him achieve immortality. And as early as the first year
of his reign, he began the construction of a massive
underground necropolis filled with monuments, artifacts, and an army to accompany him
into the next world and continue his rule. This magnificent army is still standing
in precise battle formation and is split across several pits. One contains a main force
of 6,000 soldiers, each weighing several hundred pounds, a second has more than 130 war chariots
and over 600 horses, and a third houses the high command. An empty fourth pit suggests
that the grand project could not be finished
before the emperor’s death. In addition, nearby chambers contain
figures of musicians and acrobats, workers and government officials, and various exotic animals, indicating that Emperor Qin
had more plans for the afterlife than simply waging war. All the figurines are sculpted
from terracotta, or baked earth, a type of reddish brown clay. To construct them, multiple workshops
and reportedly over 720,000 laborers were commandeered by the emperor, including groups of artisans who molded
each body part separately to construct statues as individual as
the real warriors in the emperor’s army. They stand according to rank and feature different weapons
and uniforms, distinct hairstyles and expressions, and even unique ears. Originally, each warrior was painted
in bright colors, but their exposure to air
caused the paint to dry and flake, leaving only the terracotta base. It is for this very reason that another
chamber less than a mile away has not been excavated. This is the actual tomb of
Qin Shi Huangdi, reported to contain palaces,
precious stones and artifacts, and even rivers of mercury
flowing through mountains of bronze. But until a way can be found to expose it
without damaging the treasures inside, the tomb remains sealed. Emperor Qin was not alone in wanting
company for his final destination. Ancient Egyptian tombs contain clay models
representing the ideal afterlife, the dead of Japan’s Kofun
period were buried with sculptures of horses and houses, and the graves of the Jaina island
off the Mexican coast are full of ceramic figurines. Fortunately, as ruthless as he was, Emperor Qin chose to have servants
and soldiers built for this purpose, rather than sacrificing living ones
to accompany him, as had been practiced in Egypt,
West Africa, Anatolia, parts of North America and even China during
the previous Shang and Zhou dynasties. And today, people travel from all over
the world to see these stoic soldiers silently awaiting their battle orders
for centuries to come.

100 thoughts on “The incredible history of China’s terracotta warriors – Megan Campisi and Pen-Pen Chen

  1. Despite the fact that he fought for this empire Qinshihuangdi wasn't a very good ruler. His empire only lasted for 15 years counting him and his son combined. All these years he was either building the Great Wall or this.

  2. Think about it,If Alexander came to China at the time, it might be that there was no return, even if the West had stronger shields and physiques.Qin’s suppression of numbers and tactics, and the Qin have ten times the range of Western bows and arrows, and can shoot arrows on horseback.

  3. there are so many misconceptions about qin shi huang. first of all, he was heavily smeared by later historians because he practiced legalism, an adversary of confuscius teachings. second, he proposed the idea that aristocrats should follow the same laws as peasants, which angered many aristocrats (who were the ones writing those history books). amongst the books he burned many were false medical texts. i mean, if he really burned the good books, then where did all the confuscius and daoist texts come from? qin shi huang was a harsh ruler, but not an unwise one. his son, however, imposed some of those stricter laws. that led to internal disorder and brought the downfall of qin dynasty.

  4. I’ve been there and seen them irl and I think I have a couple miniature replicas of them made from clay they dug out of the pits where the statues are. They were pretty cool but like, shorter than I expected. (Which makes sense I guess people back then were short)

  5. sadly nowaday if we ever been excavated for another century generations to found, the only found plastic and some nokia phone thats still works

  6. I can speak absolutely no Chinese but I love the way the narrator pronounces the names and places. But for all I know she could be butchering the pronunciation!

  7. “Great Emperor! So glad too see you here in the afterlife”
    bows
    “Wait but why do you have a army with you”

    Quin Shi: “I don’t know. Wait did you just question me?! Army! Attack!”

  8. Some people think Qinshihuang is unmerciful,but I don't think so , it is a kind of political skill in the specially time. i know that Qin dynasty have the most cruel torture,but the Dracos Code is a powerful way to help the large of peple to maintain a stable and orderly society.but without buried the living, it also can see, he is not a real inexorability people.

  9. Wow he is 13 years old when he became a king and he also unified china? My god he must be a genius war strategist….

  10. "Fortunately, as ruthless as he was, Emperor Qin chose to have servants and soldiers built for this purpose, rather than sacrificing living ones to accompany him"
    But you forget all them workers had to get killed to keep his tomb a secret.

  11. Shamelessly recruiting on random videos.
    Teach English to Chinese kids online, $14 an hour starting.

    https://teacher.gogokid.com/?channelId=344&referralId=EED7RXMA

  12. One particularly interesting, and disturbing thing about the site surrounding the mound that holds Emperor Qin's tomb is that it is covered with 800+ skeletons of women all lying in a way that points to the mound. Archaeologists think that they may have been royal concubines as they were buried wearing precious clothes and jewellery and apparently date back to around the period that the emperor died. This whole burial area of the emperor is not only a massive find, but a final testament to Emperor Qin's ruthlessness

  13. Yeah spread the word bout the unopened tomb, I'm sure some people are planning a heist right about now.

  14. How many lives were forced to make this wonder ?Deplore that humans were subjected to this workload. Our modern life is evolved from numerous accounts of such brutal tyranny over the unheard-of, silent ghosts who had never got another choice. Pathetic. Sad. This is sad. We admire this historical relics but not the haunting sobbing of the innocent people made to sacrifice their lives to serve the only dictator.

  15. When people think of Chinese government, these words come to mind: dictatorship, no freedom, lack or transparency, lies, fake news, exaggerated propaganda, manipulating people mind.
    It is possible that many of the terracotta histories are fake or exaggerated.

    Yes, they did find something in the emperor's tomb, but these stuffs may not be so impressive like they try to show us now.

    They may say anything they want (like 8,000 life-size clay soldiers, each one is the replica of a real soldier, with his unique face, etc.), but how do we know it is truth?

    They are showing these soldiers in a museum, but they are all reconstruction, not the original statues.

    How do we know that these (very well made) reconstructed statues are really the same ones in the grave?

    Since this finding don't affect other country's economic, political or military interests, nobody cares if they are false. China may say anything they want to say, and nobody will ask them for proof.

  16. "if it be, will be when I want, not when you want," he said, so are you gonna a do it or no? 2 days, no intermediares, under the sun light, by my sealf, dont worry rabbine I know what I do, I do not betray your peole, its a Levi, or Cohen, its In Tur key, a red cord with an eye, chemicals, Union,I will buil it, you will be served

  17. Interesting video of the Terra Cotta Army in Ancient China. The Chinese is pronounced correctly, which is educational.

  18. Pharaohs: We build Pyramids for our afterlives! No one is gonna dig our bodies and treasures out!
    Qin Shi Huang: Hold my rice wine.

  19. 虽然秦始皇使用了前所未有的规模巨大的俑殉,建造陵墓的工人还是被殉葬了。中国活人殉葬的传统一直持续到明清,期间有盛有衰,但是从来没有完全断绝过。埃及结束活人殉葬的时间要比中国早多了。

  20. The sims: have huge amounts of customization, with each towny being randomly generated.
    Terracotta Army: Hold my 酒。

  21. The chinese pronouciation is great, but any chinese speaker will know penpen chen is not the correct pronouciation of any chinese name

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