One of the most famous archaeological discoveries in all of history is The Terracota Army. It's also called the Terracotta Warriors and Horses and they were found by farmers digging for a well on the outskirts of Xi’an in 1974. Becoming a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987, the spectacular figures continue to attract millions of visitors from all over the world. Yet the excavations are unfinished. Famously, archaeological work at the site and the accompanying Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor has been allowed to slow down until technology advances enough to preserve the artefacts currently buried underground. In addition to this, safety concerns have been raised regarding the unusually high levels of mercury found on the soil. Allegedly this is from the mercury streams which were inlaid in the floor of the burial chamber, but only time will tell if this ancient tale is true.
Currently 8000 soldiers have been found, each one with a distinctively different look. This was achieved through an early use of assembly-line-type construction. The warriors were assembled using moulds, with 8 different heads to choose from, and features being added with additional clay by skilled craftsmen. Studying the warriors and their horses offers historians an important insight into this period in Chinese history. The technology used to assemble the underground army was truly remarkable. Over 40,000 bronze weapons were found, and after more than 2000 years they still appear sharp. How is this possible? The ancient Chinese managed to use protective chrome plating, something which was thought to have been invented in Germany in 1937! Chinese metallurgy was thousands of years ahead of its time.
When it is finally uncovered, the sight will truly be spectacular and much more will be understood about China’s first Emperor and the level of technology the ancient Chinese possessed.