An army of the dead is a common theme in horror and adventure cinema. The Terracotta Army in China is the best example of a real life army of the dead and was created to protect the first Emperor of China in the afterlife.
This is why the Terracotta Army is a must-visit for fans of history and culture.
The Terracotta Army is located outside the city of Xi’an in China’s Shaanxi province and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Live Science reports that it is widely believed that there are around 8,000 terracotta warriors in the mausoleum, 2,000 of which have been excavated. The Terracotta Army is considered one of the world’s greatest archaeological finds.
Visitors to the site can see the warriors in three vaults that each contain an evacuation pit. In an article on what to expect at the museum by China Highlights, they state that pit one is the largest and most impressive. This is where the famous photos of the army are taken and the site informs that the spots to get the best view are in the corners of the vault. The second vault contains archers and chariots and the third vault contains a command post. After seeing the warriors visitors can go to the museum and see weapons found in the tombs as well as two bronze carriages that are the largest pieces of ancient bronze ever found.
According to History.com the Terracotta Army was created during the reign of the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang (221-207CE). He created the 20-square-mile mausoleum in preparation for his death. Very little is known about the construction of the vast tomb except that it is believed that the Emperor chose the location due to it being rich in gold and jade. What makes the mausoleum so remarkable is that it became a hidden tomb and disappeared from record until it was discovered in 1974.
The story of how the Terracotta Army was rediscovered is almost so unbelievable that it could come from a film plot. In their account of the discovery, Swiss Info write that the tomb was discovered by a peasant called Yang Zhifa. The website recently interviewed Yang about his discovery.
“At first the digging went well. The second day we hit hard red earth, the third day, my shoe dug out the neck of a terracotta statue without a head, but the opening at the bottom was about the size of a bowl.”
Completely by accident Yang has just discovered one of humanity’s greatest creations. In the corner of pit one visitors can see the well where the discovery was made.
Since it was found, the Terracotta Army has been used by Hollywood several times. One famous example was its use as the backdrop of a fight scene in Tomb Raider: Cradle of Life. Speaking of that fight scene in their review of the film, Variety wittily noted that it was “one scene in which the tomb raider appears to demolish more antiquities than she could ever hope to uncover.” The Tomb Raider franchise has had a revival in recent years after the game was rebooted in 2013. The rebooted series has been a huge success and will be adapted into a new film starring Alicia Vikander in 2018.
Lara Croft is one of the world’s most famous digital characters and the popularity of the Tomb Raider franchise has expanded to other formats. One such example is through online gaming site Spin Genie who continue the franchise in their own version of the Tomb Raider game. Like the film and video game the online game encourages players to be a tomb raider in search of rewards. While the Terracotta Army is unlikely to feature in the next film, it is almost certain that another famous historic site or artifact will.
The Terracotta Army is one of the modern wonders of the world and should not be missed if you are planning a trip to China.
Have you been? Let me know in the comments below!