Warning: Warriors Ahead

March 9, 2016 at 4:36 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , , )


The newest traveling exhibit at The Field Museum – China’s First Emperor and His Terracotta Warriors – is incredible. I was lucky enough to be trained in it over the weekend and I got a behind the scenes tour, since the actual exhibit doesn’t open until later this week. In case you don’t know the First Emperor (Qin Shi Huang) or his Terracotta warriors from a hole in the ground, I’ll give you a little background.

Speaking of holes in the ground, that’s where everything on display was found. Yup. A farmer digging a well in the 1970’s stumbled across a terracotta figure sticking out of the ground and researches went on to excavate nearly 8,000 figures. The First Emperor of China (who declared himself the First Emperor because he felt he was closer to God than a mere Duke or King) decided he wanted to be a ruler of both the earth and the cosmos and as such, he would need an entire city to rule in the afterlife. So he had (literally) tons of figures created to be buried in a huge 22-acre complex alongside his tomb. Everything from city officials to soldiers to horses and stableboys were carved – even a few acrobats, because obviously the afterlife would need some entertainment!

When this discovery was made, archaeologists quickly realized that every single figure was damaged in some way as either looters or nature itself have a way of destroying things. A lot of this stuff has been fully excavated though and the Field is lucky enough to have entire figures on display for this exhibit. We even have that famed acrobat, though he happens to be missing his head. Pretty much everything else is in solid shape though and the way the exhibit is designed, you feel as though you’re actually walking through the city that the Emperor created. It’s amazing and fascinating and just plain cool.

Something else amazing, fascinating and cool is the fact that the Emperor is still buried in this huge complex – and the tomb has allegedly never been opened. There’s no plan to open it either because scientists agree that there’s simply no way to guarantee they can preserve whatever they find inside. So until technology catches up a bit, everything that’s buried in the mound will remain a mystery.

But if you want to see what was dug up nearby, head to the museum between now and the end of the year. You may even see me there!

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