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 The discovery of the terra-cotta warrior

No historical book has recorded anything about the world-famous Terra-cotta Warriors and horses. Its discovery was made purely by chance.

March 29, 1974 is a memorable day in the history of Chinese archaeology because it was on that day that fragments of pottery figures were found by some villagers from the Xiyang Village of Yanzhai Township in lingtong County while sinking a wells 1.5 kilometers away east of The first emperor’s mausoleum. Puzzled by what they had dug out, the farmers invited Mr. Fang Shimin, a person in charge of the irrigation work to examine them. As soon as he saw the qQin bricks, Mr. Fang told the villagers that what they had found were cultural relics and urged them to report this to the Cultural Center of the county. Zhao Kangmin , an archaeological expert in the Cultural center of lintong county , hurried to the scene and began to sort out the historical relics. He was amazed to find that, as he continued with his work, the number of pottery fragments kept increasing and the area became larger and larger. The good news traveled fast and spread widely. People flocked to the sites from far and near. A journalist of Xinhua News Agency who happened to be back home visiting his relatives in this area, was also drawn to the sites. Back in Beijing, he reported the news in a newspaper for internal circulation. The leadership of the National Bureau of Historical Relics (NBHR) attached great importance to the report and inquired into the matter immediately.

In early July, archaeologists from the NBHR, the Institute of Archaeology of the Academy of Social Science and Shannxi Province together conducted an inspection on the site. Shaanxi Province was entrusted with the task of organizing an archaeology-team to carry out the drilling and excavation. On July 15, the first group of archaeologists led by Mr. Yuan Zhongyi, an expert in this field, arrived at Xiyang Village and soon engaged themselves in the clearing and exploration work. Later, some archaeology-major teachers and students from the Northwest University also came to their assistance. Unearthed from the trial trenches within an area of 960 square meters are 500 life-size pottery warriors, 24 pottery horses, 6 wooden war chariots and a number of bronze weapons.

In August 1975, the State Council gave permission that a museum was built on the site of Pit 1. Construction began in 1976 and, by a major part of that project had been completed, followed by a formal excavation of the pit. Five trial trenches were dug out an area of 2000 square meters. This time the unearthed relics included 1,087 terra-cotta warriors, 32 pottery horses, 8 wooden war chariots and tens of thousands of weapons. On October 1, 1979, while the excavation was still going on, Pit 1 was officially open to the public.



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