Unearthing the Terracotta Army

A group of farmers digging a well in Xi’an, China, stumbled upon a life-sized human head made of clay on 29th March, 1974. It was the first indication that beneath the ground - close to the tomb of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor - was the greatest archaeological find of the 20th century: the Terracotta Army. 

The ‘army’ consists of more than 8,000 life-size soldiers, horses, and chariots, and was created to protect the emperor in the afterlife. The site has since become a popular tourist attraction and designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly explain why the farmers were initially reluctant to go public with their findings; reveal how a finger of one of the figures ended up in a desk drawer in Philadelphia; and consider what this world-famous artefact has in common with the Cabbage Patch Dolls…

Further Reading:

• ‘Terra Cotta Soldiers on the March’ (Smithsonian Magazine, 2009): https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/terra-cotta-soldiers-on-the-march-30942673/

• ’Uncovering China's Terracotta Army’ (History Extra, 2018): https://www.historyextra.com/period/uncovering-china-terracotta-army/

• ‘Terracotta Army: The greatest archaeological find of the 20th century’ (BBC News, 2017): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4c_ADqshdSA

#China #Discoveries #Art

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The Retrospectors are Olly Mann, Rebecca Messina & Arion McNicoll, with Matt Hill.

Theme Music: Pass The Peas. Announcer: Bob Ravelli. Graphic Design: Terry Saunders. Edit Producer: Sophie King.

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