In 1974, farmers digging a well near Xian in China accidentally uncovered one of the world’s most spectacular archaeological finds — a life-sized terracotta soldier. That aroused the interest of archaeologists who took over the digging and, to their surprise, unearthed an entire terracotta army, which now numbers some 8,000 warriors, chariots and horses.
The Terracotta Warriors, in battle formation and each with different facial features, weapons, and poses, were commissioned by the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, to guard his tomb and protect him in the afterlife. The emperor died in 210BCE.
The warriors had sat untouched underground for more than 2,200 years, close to the tomb of Qin Shi Huang. More are believed to be still buried.
Covering an area of 56 square kilometres, it is the biggest burial site on earth. In 1987 the site was given UNESCO World Heritage status and it is a major tourist attraction in Xian.
Meanwhile, archaeological digging and restoration work continues. There are many other worthwhile sights to see in Xian, but for us the warriors were the highlight.