Xian Terracotta warriors


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Asia » China » Shaanxi » Xi'an
April 21st 2010
Published: May 5th 2010
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The next morning I was going to see the Terracotta army and since the weather was nice I walked to the station stopping at a Dico's fast food place for a chicken burger and coffee brunch before taking the one hour bus to Lintong county to see the warriors. I decided to miss the mausoleum as it hasn’t been excavated yet and the entrance fee only allows you climb to the top of the hill for the view of the surroundings. It’s amazing that the army and mausoleum were lost in time until the 1970’s when two farmers digging a well made the discovery, had it not been for their exact choice of location of the well the army may well have remained lost. The entrance to the warriors as you would expect was teaming with touts and people selling box set miniatures of the army which got cheaper as you got closer to the entrance. Circling the ticket office like a pack of wild dogs were the tour guides both official and unofficial, I had studied the history of the army and the emperor so I had no desire to pay for a tour guide so I made my way through the 700m or so of eateries and souvenir stalls all selling the same thing. When I finally got through the entrance to the museum I headed for the little cinema which shows a minute short video about the area on a loop, not a scratch on the BBC or channel 4 documentaries I’d watched. There are 3 pits on the site, Pit 1, the largest of 3 contains hundreds of warrior arranged in battle formation starting with the infantry and eventually charioteers, unfortunately the chariots were made from wood and have long since perished. At the back a team of archaeologists excavate and catalogue their finds. I’ve watched the documentaries and seen photos but when you see the detail in the craftsmanship for yourself it is amazing, it took 700,000 men 40 years to complete the army and the emperor’s tomb. Pit two hasn’t been excavated yet as there is still so much work to be done on pit one. They have taken away the first few metres of ground in a pattern which again shows the formations of the army underneath but that is the extent of the work there I found pit three disappointing, there are only a few soldiers and a horse or two to be seen. Inside the museum containing pit 2 there is a photograph studio where visitors can have their photo taken with replica soldiers or even superimposed into the tombs. I was delighted to see they had no patronage whatsoever whilst I was there.
At the hostel I struck up conversation with Jill and Braeden her brother, the pair were travelling round Asia on a similar route to myself so we concluded that we may eventually join forces down the line but for now we would just go for dinner in the Muslim quarter and spend some time at the markets. This was a pleasant way to spend a few hours. We concluded the evening with a beer in the hostel bar.


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