June 13, 2012

100 Clay Warriors Unearthed In China

Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com

Chinese archeologists have discovered an additional 100 clay warriors at Xi'an mausoleum, bringing the total number of soldiers to 8,000.

The new finding suggests that Emperor Qinshihuang's terracotta army fell to arson and looting by the military leader who overthrew the First Emperor's dynasty.

"We have found large quantities of red clay and charcoal along with holes for robbing in the major pit," Shen Maosheng, who is leading one of the teams, told Shanghai Daily. "Rebel leader Xiang [Yu] was the person with the power, time and motive to destroy the terracotta warriors."

He said he believes Xiang's troops stole the weapons and smashed figures before setting parts of the pit on fire.

There has been 310 relics discovered so far in this phase of excavation, which started back in 2009. These relics are believed to only be a fraction of those that remain.

Archaeologist Yuan Zhongyi told the state English language paper China Daily that the team found more soldiers, war horses, two sets of chariots, weapons, drums and a shield, which is the first of its kind to be found in three pits of warriors.

According to Xu Weihong, executive director of the excavation team, eight of the figures were officials, with more complicated and detailed armor than the rest.

The team also found more color left on the figures than what has previously been found, with some black and taupe eyeballs and even some with eyelashes painted on.

"Strictly speaking, every one of the terracotta figures was decorated with various colors," said Xu, a researcher with the Museum of the Terracotta Warriors and Horses of Qin Shihuang, told China Daily.

Yuan said there are three main reasons for the color to be stripped off from the figures, including being submerged in water and exposed to fire in the pits.

"At that time, craftsmen would paint raw lacquer on them before decorating. After so many years, the lacquer separates from the body, stripping off the colour," Yuan added.

Another excavation in a pit nearby found over 20 terra-cotta figures in two lines facing each other. Experts say this may have been part of a performance troop.

They also found a headless figure 7.2 feet tall, which they believe would have measured 8.2 feet if it still had a head.