Terracotta Army: The Real Army of the Dead

By in Asia, China, Lara Croft, video games on December 14, 2016
0 0 0 18 comments

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.

Terracotta Army: Real Army of the Dead
Maros M r a z, Wikimedia

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.

Peter Morgan, Wikimedia

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!

hails from the East Coast of the United States, but she found her calling in Seoul when she realized all she needed was a metro card to go places. Her addiction to meat, music, and all things morbidly adorable brings all sides of her from wildly shook to crazy fangirl. The only thing that matches the sheer expansity of her stomach is her long, black hair that she’s not sure when she’ll cut.
    • Always a Friday
    • December 18, 2016

    Wow interesting to find out how it was discovered! Can’t wait to go and see for myself someday.

  1. Reply

    Amazing! This piece of history always gives me goosebumps!
    Terrific pictures, they do show the passage of time.

  2. Reply

    We were lucky enough to witness a tiny portion of this extravaganza while in Porto, Portugal…if you can imagine that! There was a travelling exhibition of the terracotta warriors there. But seeing the real thing in China, in those underground vaults would be so fascinating.

  3. Reply

    We opted not to visit the warriors on a trip to China. We’d read several negative reviews about the site, mostly that the warriors were smaller and less impressive than expected. Clearly you didn’t find that to be the case.

  4. Reply

    Wow! That’s so cool that you got to go there. So do you buy the official story? Or do you think something fishy’s going on with this discovery story?

    • neha
    • January 4, 2017

    I have seen the Lara Craft movie but I didn’t know something like this army existed for real. I thought it was all staged for the move. Such an interesting story. Would love to visit

  5. I would really like to visit China one day and the Terracotta Army is one of a handful of sights I hope to visit one day. There are so many of them and so much details in each. It really is astonishing. 🙂

    • Sid - The Wanderer
    • January 5, 2017

    Wow! It’s been on my list of places to see for so so long…maybe in 2017 🙂

    Btw great pics and so interesting to know more about the history of the place…

    • Emily
    • January 5, 2017

    I have always wanted to visit here ever since a friend of mine did and i was captivated by the pictures and yours are the same! Its such an interesting place, i hope i go there soon!

    • soumna
    • January 6, 2017

    There are 8000 of them? I have always seen them in movies and photographs and did not know that there were so many of them. It is quite interesting to read about how they were discovered. Would love to visit one day.

  6. Reply

    I would love to see the Terracotta Army. What a cool sight to see on a visit to China. I didn’t realise that it was used in the Tomb Raider film but will make sure to look for it next time I watch it. I also didn’t know they were making new Tomb Raider films. I hope they are good.

  7. Reply

    The place is full of history. I would definitely explore Terracotta Army while visiting China. China always fascinates me with its mystic.
    Nicely captured!

  8. Reply

    The Terracotta Army , the UNESCO World Heritage Site is always on my bucket list. Thanks for sharing the post. Great info and pictures as well.

  9. Reply

    I had no idea about them until I read a blog post recently. It is so impressive and wondering how exactly they have managed to make them.It is so interesting how they have discovered them as well.

    • Adam Biernat
    • January 11, 2017

    I would love to visit this wonder! Such a fascinating place 🙂 Chinese culture always amaze me 🙂

  10. Reply

    I really love the Terracotta army. Did you visit all the chambers? I haven’t been there yet. Would surely love to do so. What are the entry charges?

  11. Reply

    hahaha Lara Croooft!! awesome!! Actually the terracotta army or part of it was brought to Barcelona some years ago for an exhibition! I’m not sure whether I would go for a visit when visiting China… although your pics and description sounds like a great visit! 🙂 Happy travels! E

  12. Reply

    Love that you included Lara Croft into this! This place has so much history. Definitely looks like a site to see and experience first hand.

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