Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Terracotta Army Of Emperor Qin's Mausoleum(秦始皇兵马俑)

 xi'an, once the capital of eleven chinese dynasties, is famous throughout the world for life-sized terra-cotta warriors and horses. they have won fame as one of the greatest archaeological finds of this century. back in 1974, while digging a well to fight drought, some farmers from lintong county, about thirty kilometers east of xi'an, unearthed some brown pottery fragments, which led to the great discovery of the executed terra-cotta legions as an exterior section of the mausoleum, of qin shi huang or first emperor of the qin dynasty (255-210b. c.)

  details of qin shi huang's tomb can be traced in the historical records (compiled by sima qian) and legends about it have been widespread. however, for technical reasons, the major part of the tomb remains unexcavated today with its mound still standing 76 meters high against the slopes of mt. lishan and facing the huishui river.

  after 20 years of careful excavation three underground vaults officially opened to the public in 1979, 1989, and 1994 respectively, displaying thousands of terra-cotta warriors, horses and chariots, all arranged in battle formations.


  vault 1, built with earth and timber, measures 210 meters long, 60 meters wide and 4.6 to 6.5 meters high. in this area of 12, 600 square meters, six thousand life-sized warriors and horses of terra-cotta were found in rectangular battle formation. the troops were of a fairly uniform height of 1.8 meters. they wear helmets and armor and carry real bows and arrows, swords, lances, javelins and crossbows in their hands. each chariot, made of wood, is drawn by a team of four horses, 1. 5 meters in height. three rows of infantrymen make up the vanguard of the formation, and these are followed by the main body of the army, 38 rows of troops. there are also flank columns and rearguards. the array breathes the power of qin shi huang's army.

  vault 2 is approximately one half vault i in size, housing nearly a thousand pottery warriors. compared with vault 1, these warriors are of a larger variety and arranged in more complex battle array. unlike vault 1, the war chariots and infantrymen are arranged separately in four square formations which are linked to one another in a polygon. again, however, the warriors carry real weapons. the projecting part of the polygon consists of archers, either standing or kneeling, with crossbows or handbows and quivers and so appears to be the vanguard of the phalanx.

  the archers are followed by a unit of cavalrymen to the left and one of chariots to the right, forming the two wings of the phalanx. infantrymen and war chariots bring up the rear. each chariot drawn by four horses has1l driver and two assistants, one on either side. the charioteers are armored and carry spears, swords and crossbows, indicating that they could engage in long-range battles, short-range fighting and hand-to-hand combat. all the cavalrymen carry crossbows, a sign that shooting on horseback was a common practice in the army at that time.

  from among the chariots a robust and unusually tall figure at 1. 95 meters has been unearthed. his armor is interlinked and overlapped with finer metal pieces than that of the common soldiers, and he is believed to be a high-ranking commander of the 1egion.

  vault 3 is a modest building more resembling a gallery. it has 69 pottery warriors with defensive weapons and a wooden chariot pulled by four magnificent horses. the structure of the gallery and the line-up of the soldiers suggest that this was likely the headquarters of the troops of vault 1 and 2.

  however, the commander is missing. many archaeologists believe that since the underground army represents the emperor's garrison under his direct command, no marshal was necessary.

  altogether ten thousand pieces of actual weaponry have been unearthed from the three vaults, including arrow-heads, swords, spears and halberds. two long-handled swords dug out recently are still sharp and gleaming despite their burial for more than two thousand years. some bronze arrow-heads from vault 2 are 41 cm in length and 100 grams in weight. they are the biggest bronze weapons excavated in china. important to the study of qin technology was the discovery of bronze arrow-heads and swords treated with a preservative that has prevented erosion for 22 centuries. chemical analysis revealed the sword to have been cast of an alloy of copper, tin and various other elements, including nickel, magnesium, and cobalt. the arrow-heads which contain 7.71 percent lead are considered by archaeologists to be the world's most poisonous.

  experts expect future discoveries to unearth even more amazing art treasures. but they warn that it may require the efforts of one or two generations to recover the entire tomb complex of emperor qin shi huang.

  the three vaults are well preserved in three modern constructions, each with an arched dome and a corridor along the side of the vault so that visitors may overlook the restored figures of warriors, horses and chariots in their original formations. vault 2 is equipped with devices for regulating temperature, lighting and air humidity.

俑是我国传统雕塑艺术中特有的一个类型。秦始皇兵马俑是20 世纪70年代中期发现的。1974年3月,陕西省临潼县宴寨公社西场大队的社员们在骊山秦始皇陵东面约1.5公里的地方打井抗旱,忽然从井中挖出了大小与真人一样、形象逼真的陶俑。他们将此事报告了陕西省文物管理部门,陕西省文物管理局闻讯后立即派人赶赴现场,组织力量进行调查。经考古勘控发掘,竟然发现了一个面积超过1200平方米、埋藏有6000余个兵马俑的大坑,考古学家称为“1号俑坑”。坑中的6000余个兵马俑与真人、真马大小相仿。陶人高约 1.8米,陶马高约1.5米、长2米,形象栩栩如生,容貌各异,排列成以步兵为主,战车相间的长方形军隈。东端有三列横队,每队70人;西部各有一列向外的侧翼。坑中的俑全部是面向东方排列,间有四马一车的38路纵队。步兵簇拥着驷马战车,排列成军阵。看上去威武雄壮,浩浩如烟海荡荡。马俑的制作也相当精致,兵马、战车等制造结构复杂,工艺技术高超,令观者惊叹不已。此外,坑中出土的兵器,埋藏地下2000多年还不锈蚀,将上面的泥土擦拭后,仍然崭新锃亮。从兵马俑坑出土的文物来看,可以窥见秦朝军队素质之高、武器之良,具有很强的作战能力。随后,又在1号坑附近发现了2号坑和3号坑。2号坑从1994 年3月开始挖掘,经密集钻探和部分试掘,也已摸清地下内部基本情况。2号坑面积约6000平方米,分四个单元:由跪射式和立射式弩兵组成的方阵,驷马战车方阵,车、步兵、骑兵俑组成的混合方阵等。四个小阵有机结合,呈现出一幅古代军阵的生动图谱。根据试掘推算,2号坑内藏陶俑、陶马2300多件,战车80 多辆。据初步勘察,3个坑联系在一起,面积达20000多平方米,约有兵马俑8000个以上。在地下驻有一个师以上的军队,这在世界上是绝无仅有的。这一发现向全世界展示了我们中华民族的聪明才智,被世界学术界誉为“世界第八达奇迹”。法国一位前总理目睹了秦始皇兵马俑后惊叹道:“秦俑坑是世界上的奇迹,不看金字塔不算真正到过埃及,不看秦俑也不算真正到过中国。“国家为了更好的保护这些中国历史上的文化瑰宝,在这里建起了秦始皇兵马俑博物馆。

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