The Chinese Terracotta Army

The Chinese Terracotta Army is a collection of life-size terracotta figures of warriors and horses. The figures were discovered in the 1920?s near the Xi'an, Shaanxi province by local farmers drilling for a water-well. Like the Megalithic Temples of Malta, Hal Saflieni Hypogeum and Valletta, the Mausoleum of the First Chinese Emperor is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

The terracotta figures were buried with the first Emperor of Qin, Qin Shi Huang in 210-209 BC. Consequently, they are also sometimes referred to as "Qin's Armies". They were built as an army for Emperor Qin to use in the after life. Construction of this mausoleum began in 246 BC and is believed to have taken 700,000 workers and craftsmen 38 years to complete. Qin Shi Huang was interred inside the tomb complex upon his death in 210 BC.

Archaeological excavations of the Terracotta Army started in March 1974 and are still ongoing over thirty years later. This is largely due to the fragile nature of the material and its difficult preservation. The lower half of the ceramic bodies were made of solid terracotta clay, the upper is half hollow.

Only about 1,000 soldiers and the remnants of only 21 chariots have been excavated so far; archaeologists estimate that there are over 7,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with horses, and 110 cavalry horses. Each figure was given a real weapon such as bronze spears, halberds or swords, or wooden crossbows with bronze fittings. It is believed these weapons date to as early as 228 BC and may have been used in actual warfare.

The exhibition, supported by the Foundation, was hosted at the Salon of the National Museum of Archaeology in Valletta from 1st March until the 31 July 2007. It consisted of 84 original artifacts, including 11 terracotta soldiers, two horses and a number of bronze and pottery cooking utensils, personal ornaments, weapons, coins, terracotta animals and other artifacts excavated in the last 30 years.