It was on Mar. 29, 1974, when local farmers of Xiyang Village, Lingtong County, were drilling a series of wells in search of water, some pottery fragments and ancient bronze weapons were discovered accidentally. The head of the village reported the news to the local government immediately. The news aroused much attention from both local government and National Cultural Relics Bureau. With government approval, and archaeological team from Shaanxi Province arrived at the site on July 17, 1974 and began their explorations and excavations. On Oct. 1st, 1979, Emperor Qin Shihuang’s Terra-cotta Museum was opened to the public. The village, which used to be never known by outside, usually quiet, became restless since then. The archaeological wonder discovered here came as a shock to the country as well as to the whole world.
Following the discovery of Pit 1, Pit 2 and Pit 3 were brought to light in April and May of 1976. Pit 3 was opened in 1989. Pit 2 started to be excavated in March 1994 and was opened in October the same year.
Now the Terra-cotta Museum is wildly well-known as a huge modern on-site museum. Three main buildings of the museum, which were named Pit 1, Pit 2 and Pit 3, were constructed on their original sites in different periods of time. The three pits were built in similar basic construction. They are five to seven meters beneath the present ground level with the terra-cotta figures placed in corridors. The corridors, divided by earth-rammed partition walls, are paved with pottery bricks on which the figures were placed. The earth walls sustained wood roof that was composed of huge and strong rafters, the roof was covered by layers of fiber mats, earth fill and tilled earth.
The three pits vary in size and shape. Located at the center of the Museum, Pit 1 is the largest one in rectangular shape, housing the main force of the army; Pit 2, located some 20 meters north of Pit 1, is a complex battle formation formed by charioteers, archers, cavalrymen and infantrymen. It is specially used for supporting the main force; Pit 3, located 25 meters to the north of Pit 1 and to the west of Pit 2, was evidently the headquarters. The total three pits are located to the east of Emperor’s Mausoleum, determining that the army was facing east, with its back to the tomb, serving as guardians to protect the entrance of the Emperor’s burial.
It has been revealed that three underground pits totally cover and area of 22,000 square meters, housing an estimated 8,000 pottery warriors and horses. The Qin Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses were big in life-size and exquisitely made with high technology. The hardness of their bodies indicates that they might be fired at a temperature between 950 and 1,050 degrees centigrade. All of the soldiers and horses were made using local clay. The weight of the Terra-cotta Warriors varies from 110 kilos to 300 kilos. Their average height is 1.8 meters. Each individual has different facial features and expressions.
The multiple exhibition hall lies to the eat of Pit 2, providing a sries of exhibits such as two sets of bronze chariots and horses, the new findings from the Emperor Qin’s Mausoleum, the history of the Museum and all kinds of temporary exhibits. These displays systematically depict the history of the Qin Dynasty from 221BC—206BC and can help you have a better understanding on the Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses.
On the south of Pit 1 is a circle vision hall. The movie inside last for 20minutes, telling the story of Emperor Qin and his Terra-cotta Army 2,200 years ago.
Now the three Pits are well-preserved in three modern constructions, each with a corrider along the side of the pit so that you can overlook the warriors, the horses and chariots in their original formations.