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11.04.2019 114 просмотров

Clay terracotta army of Emperor Qin Shi Huang (259-210 BC), discovered in the Chinese province of Xi'an, can be considered a real treasure of the Middle Kingdom. Scientists are still trying to unravel the mysteries associated with these statues, which are almost 2200 years old.

The Terracotta Army was discovered in 1974 quite by accident - an ordinary Chinese peasant unexpectedly stumbled upon a statue of an ancient warrior on his land plot. He informed the authorities about his find, and they, in turn, informed archaeologists about the artifact. This is how the world learned about these amazing masterpieces of ancient art. 

Archaeological work, by the way, is still ongoing, although the main surveys took place in three stages: the first - from 1978 to 1984, the second - from 1985 to 1986 years, the third stage began in 2009 and continues to this day. Each time, excavations were stopped due to imperfection of tools and technologies - scientists were afraid to damage the most valuable exhibits, and therefore froze the work. 

Today, no one can say with certainty where and how the statues were created, although it is known for certain that they were brought to one place from different parts of China. According to scientists, only two hundred kilogram horses were made in the area where, on the orders of Qin Shi Huang, a huge necropolis was built. However, researchers still cannot understand how all these statues were fired, since at that time in China there were no large furnaces suitable for this type of work. At least none of them were found. It is also unclear how these rather heavy statues were transported.  

Terracotta Army. China
Warriors must were to guard the peace of the emperor Qin Shi Huang in the afterlife. Photo:

Nevertheless, the most important question that scientists are trying to answer - and so far unsuccessfully! - like a weapon found with clay warriors, for many centuries it practically did not succumb to rust. Until now, it remains as sharp as if it had been forged recently. Each soldier has his own arsenal of weapons - a spear, crossbow or sword. It, if called upon by the emperor, can be used even now in battle. The warriors were supposed to guard the rest of the emperor in the afterlife, and they were buried with Qin Shi Huang in 210 BC, along with 70 thousand workers and their families, as well as 48 concubines. By the way, this emperor is known for uniting the scattered Chinese provinces, initiated the construction of the Great Wall of China and introduced a unified writing system. True, disputes also do not subside on this issue, but that's another story. We will return to ours. 

Experts proved that all the people whose remains were found in close proximity to the necropolis were buried alive. According to one version, they were mostly craftsmen. They were killed to hide the secret of making an army. But it still remains unclear how it was possible to find all the surviving masters in the vastness of China, because the tomb was built for almost 40 years, and about 800 thousand people were involved in direct work. During this time, as they say, so much water has flowed under the bridge... 

Today, the terracotta army, found near the tomb of the emperor near Mount Lishan, has about 10 thousand terracotta sculptures of warriors, and none of them is similar on another. They have over 10,000 pieces of real bronze weapons at their disposal. There are practically no identical figures - each has its own individual characteristics, even the facial expressions of the warriors are different. Here are the archers, nearby - the infantry, a little further - the cavalry. And further away, archaeologists have discovered statues of officials, musicians and even acrobats. All this "team" was supposed to accompany the Chinese emperor in his later life in the other world.

Terracotta Army
Warriors of the Terracotta Army. Photo:

Remarkably, clay horses and chariots are made of material found on Lishan Mountain, but where did the 135-kilogram human figures of warriors come from? knows. An interesting fact: all metal sculptures are covered with an alloy that contains chromium, but the mystery is that this processing method appeared only in the first quarter of the 20th century. Many scientists just shrug their shoulders, trying to explain where the ancient Chinese got this technology from. In addition, it is very problematic to make over 10 thousand weapons in a handicraft way! And one that doesn't corrode.
However, recently a new explanation for the outstanding preservation of the bronze weapons of the Terracotta Army has emerged. The chrome version came about after a chromium-containing protective layer was discovered on the blades of some swords. A hypothesis was put forward that in the Celestial Empire at that time they already knew the amazing secrets of metallurgy.  

According to the head of research, archaeologist of the University of Cambridge Marcos Martignon-Torres, “many artifacts and the figures of warriors themselves were covered with a special varnish before they were painted ". 

"We found quite a bit of chrome inside the figures and on the shafts of the spears and the bamboo handles of the swords," he noted in Scientific Reports.
However, recent studies by a group of archaeologists, consisting of the British and Chinese, allow us to draw other conclusions. They carefully examined 464 weapons, but only 37 blades showed chrome. According to scientists, this is not enough to talk about a protective layer. In addition, most chromium was found where there was long-term contact with painted wood. As a result of chemical analysis, it turned out that the chromium present on the bronze blades is identical in chemical composition to the metal found in the paint. Chromium was also found in the preserved pigments on the figures of warriors.  

Terracotta army weapons. China.
The weapons of the Terracotta Army. Photo:

Therefore, the British-Chinese group of archaeologists came to the conclusion that the quality of the blades and their long-term preservation are associated primarily with the high content of tin in the bronze used by Chinese craftsmen, as well as with the soil in which the terracotta army of Emperor Qin Shi Huang found its last shelter. 

Two bronze chariots are also of particular interest to archaeologists - they were found not far from the mausoleum. So it seems that the four magnificent horses are about to rush forward to carry the emperor through the afterlife. There are over 3,000 parts in each wagon. They were made separately, but in the end they made up a finished work of art. You can clearly see the skillfully applied images of a tiger, a phoenix bird, a dragon... The chariots themselves are bronze, but both gold and silver inserts are found in them. Nothing like this has ever been found in China before! 

Terracotta Army Chariot. China
Chariot of the Terracotta Army. Photo:

Scientists have found that shortly after the death of Qin Shi Huang, a fire broke out in the mausoleum, and the tomb, in which, according to ancient chronicles, there were a lot of jewelry and coins , simply plundered. But why did the terracotta army, which was hidden at a depth of 4-8 meters for several centuries, practically not suffer? Today, some historians are sure that the real tomb of the emperor was never found, and the clay army was simply covered with collapsed soil. It is likely that many more discoveries await archaeologists ahead - mysterious and amazing.



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