BEIJING (AFP) ― Chinese archaeologists have unearthed 110 new terracotta warriors that laid buried for centuries, an official said Monday, part of the famed army built to guard the tomb of China’s first emperor.
The life-size figures were excavated near the Qin Emperor’s mausoleum in China’s northern Xi’an city over the course of three years, and archaeologists also uncovered 12 pottery horses, parts of chariots, weapons and tools.
“The ... excavation on the 200-square-meter site has found a total of 110 terracotta figurines,” Shen Maosheng from the Qin Shihuang Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum ― which oversees the tomb ― told AFP.
“The most significant discovery this time around is that the relics that were found were well-preserved and colourfully painted,” Shen, deputy head of the museum’s archaeology department, said.
This picture taken on June 9 shows Chinese archaeologists at work in the extended excavation of the Pit One of the Terracotta Warriors and Horses Museum in Xian, as they measure and record the dimensions of the latest terracotta warrior find in Xian, China’s Shaanxi province. (AFP-Yonhap News)
He added that archaeologists had pinpointed the location of another 11 warriors but had yet to unearth them.
The discovery is the latest in China’s cultural sector, after experts found that the Great Wall of China ― which like the Terracotta Army is a UNESCO World Heritage site ― was much longer than previously thought.
Shen said experts had expected the colours on some of the warriors and wares uncovered at the site to have faded over the centuries, and were surprised to see how well preserved they still were.
The finds also included a shield that was reportedly used by soldiers in the Qin Dynasty (B.C. 221-206), with red, green and white geometric patterns.
Qin Shihuang ― the Qin emperor who had the army built ― presided over the unification of China in B.C. 221 and is seen as the first emperor of the nation.
The ancient terracotta army was discovered in 1974 by a peasant digging a well. It represents one of the greatest archaeological finds of modern times, and was listed as a World Heritage Site in 1987.
The news comes after a five-year archaeological survey found the Great Wall of China was more than double the previously estimated length.
The survey ― released to the public last week ― found the wall was 21,196 kilometers long, compared to an official 2009 figure of 8,851 kilometers.
Beijing authorities on Saturday also reiterated plans to open two new sections of the Great Wall to tourists and expand two other existing areas to help meet booming demand.