Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Impressions from China - The 8th Wonder of the World

I figured this deserved its very own blog entry. A designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, the immense proportions of the place together with the enormity of the task of creating it is astounding.

Did you know that the excavated area covers only 1/13th of the estimated entire site which covers approximately 56 sq. km?

Did you know that the first warriors were constructed for Emperor when he was only 13 years old? And that it took over 3 decades to complete (continuing even till after his death)?
Did you know that the bronze weapons found at the site were plated with chromium?
This is 2,000 years ago. How's that for a high tech ancient civilization!

Did you know that when first discovered, the warriors were actually colored with paint replicating the real color of skin, armor etc? And that within hours, the colors slowly disappeared due to exposure to oxygen, CO2 & light?
The pictures below were taken just after the unearthing of the warriors. Note the skin colored faces & bluish tinge on their armor. Now, the exposed warriors are completely clay-colored, and further excavation has been postponed indefinitely...I suppose till there comes a time when they have developed a technique of preventing such degradation.
In this picture, the imprint of a fallen warrior that has been left behind together with the red paint that used to be on its armor.

Did you know that you can tell an archer from an infantryman from an officer from a general just by looking at what's on their heads & what they were wearing?
This is a first-row archer. Note the single top knot on his head, his half kneeling position & his armor.
The archers were grouped in threes - the first row (as above) helped to shield, the second row would shoot & the 3rd row getting ready to shoot (below - note: no armor).
Officers wear a flat leather headpiece, infantrymen wore armor & had single topknots on their heads; generals had two topknots & also wore accessories which designated them as "2 or 3 star"!

Did you know that each soldier is a "different person"?
Check out their faces below. The Emperor handpicked "models" for the warriors, ensuring that they were all tall & strapping lads! So most of the warriors are taller than the average Chinese!

Did you know that most of the warriors were found in pieces which had to be painstakingly put together by the archeologists?
Talk about a difficult jigsaw puzzle!
In the picture below, the fragments are in the foreground waiting for the archeologists to put them together.

Did you know that Emperor Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of a unified China, for whom these warriors were made, still lies interred under a huge mound of dirt (which looks like a small hill) & it's believed that his tomb lies among a replica of the map of China with the rivers represented by quicksilver (mercury) to deter grave robbers (due to the poisonous nature of this substance)?
Our visit to Xi'an has been an eye-opener. This ancient city, which used to be the capital of China, has given us a greater appreciation of the richness of Chinese history & civilization.


pretzel said...

How long is the flight from Beijing to Xi'an? ... see if i can do a Beijing-Xi'an Combo tour next yr :)

aliendoc said...

It's a 2 hour flight...not bad at all.