The Terracotta Army (literally: "Soldier-and-horse funerary statues") is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. It is a form of funerary art buried with the emperor in 210-209 BCE and whose purpose was to protect the emperor in his afterlife.
The figures, dating from approximately the late third century BCE, were discovered in 1974 by local farmers in Lintong District, Xi'an, Shaanxi province. The figures vary in height according to their roles, with the tallest being the generals. The figures include warriors, chariots and horses.
Estimates from 2007 were that the three pits containing the Terracotta Army held more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, the majority of which remained buried in the pits nearby Qin Shi Huang's mausoleum. Other terracotta non-military figures were found in other pits, including officials, acrobats, strongmen and musicians.
The Terracotta Army was discovered on 29 March 1974 to the east of Xi'an in Shaanxi province by farmers digging a water well approximately 1.6 kilometres (0.99 mi) east of the Qin Emperor's tomb mound at Mount Li (Lishan), a region riddled with underground springs and watercourses.
For centuries, occasional reports mentioned pieces of terracotta figures and fragments of the Qin necropolis-roofing tiles, bricks and chunks of masonry. This discovery prompted Chinese archaeologists to investigate, revealing the largest pottery figurine group ever found in China.
Four main pits approximately 7 metres (23 ft) deep have been excavated.These are located approximately 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) east of the burial mound. The soldiers within were laid out as if to protect the tomb from the east, where all the Qin Emperor's conquered states lay.
Pit one, which is 230 metres (750 ft) long and 62 metres (203 ft) wide,contains the main army of more than 6,000 figures. Pit one has 11 corridors, most of which are more than 3 metres (9.8 ft) wide and paved with small bricks with a wooden ceiling supported by large beams and posts.
Pit two has cavalry and infantry units as well as war chariots and is thought to represent a military guard. Pit three is the command post, with high-ranking officers and a war chariot. Pit four is empty, perhaps left unfinished by its builders.