Here at Discovery Times Square, we love to showcase history’s most important discoveries. Some of the remarkable experiences we’ve brought to Times Square have included King Tut, the Titanic, Pompeii and the Dead Sea Scrolls—and now we’re thrilled to announce our latest blockbuster—Terracotta Warriors: Defenders of China’s First Emperor!
On display at our 44th Street location through the summer and organized with the China Institute, Terracotta Warriors: The Exhibition features life-size clay soldiers and horses created more than 2,000 years ago to protect China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi, in his afterlife. Discovered by accident in 1974, thousands of the soldiers—carefully lined up in massive pits, ready to protect their leader—and so many other important artifacts in the Emperor’s tomb complex are still being excavated by archaeologists. To many people, these amazing warriors are considered the Eighth Wonder of the World!
Every Thursday, we’ll be bringing you an inside look at the Terracotta Warriors and the world of China’s first emperor. You’ll learn how the soldiers were made, how the Emperor united a group of warring states to create the China we know today, the incredible mysteries surrounding the tomb of Qin Shi Huangdi, and so much more.
If you’re in New York City this summer, come visit the Terracotta Warriors in person at Discovery Times Square. Along with the warriors, the exhibition features hundreds of other ancient artifacts (some never seen before in the U.S.), including weapons, jewelry, and bronzes, as well as the world premiere of a beautiful ancient tomb gate. Read our New York Times review here, and purchase individual and group tickets here. Don’t forget to check for updates on our special offers, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
It’s official! Visitors to Terracotta Warriors: Defenders of China’s First Emperor love the show! And while the exhibit provides plenty of background on Emperor Qin, the Warriors, and ancient China, there’s just so much information that we couldn’t possibly fit it all in to the Discovery Times Square show (If we did, it would probably take a week to make your way through the exhibit, and you’d have to live off of the Cake Boss’ confections!)
That’s why we’ll be bringing you the latest news and fascinating facts about the Terracotta Warriors and their world via our Tumblr. This week, check out some fun information about the Warriors to impress your friends with:
- The Chinese phrase for “Terracotta Warriors” is bing ma yong, or “soldier horse funeral statues.”
- The tomb of the First Emperor, which still hasn’t been opened, is beneath an enormous mound near X’ian that is almost as large as the largest pyramid in Egypt, the Great Pyramid of Giza. It may have originally been twice as high.
- Legend has it that the emperor’s resting place is surrounded by a moat of mercury, and a scientific examination of the burial mound in 2004-2005 revealed that there is indeed an incredibly high level of mercury present underground, close to where Emperor Qin’s tomb is believed to be.
Next week: the best movies about Emperor Qin and the Terracotta Warriors, including one with Jackie Chan!
The first Emperor of China, Qin Shihuangdi, was an amazing guy. Think about it: he was only 13 years old when he ascended to the throne, unified China before the age of 50, and left a legacy for the afterlife so impressive that it’s considered one of the most important cultural treasures of the world! So it’s no surprise that there are some great films about the emperor, and they’re a fun way to get a bit of a sense of what life was like in ancient China.
The Emperor and the Assassin
This 1998 film features a lethal love triangle based on an actual assassination attempt on Qin Shihuangdi: the First Emperor’s lover (Gong Li, from “Memoirs of a Geisha” and “Miami Vice”) crafts an assassination plot to help him take over the state of Yan, but her hired assassin is madly in love with her and ready to kill Qin Shihuangdi. This was one of the most expensive movies produced in China at the time, and features lavish sets and gorgeous cinematography.
Nothing is small scale when it comes to the First Emperor: this 2002 film was China’s most expensive and highest-grossing film at the time. Jet Li plays Nameless, one of several assassins dispatched to kill Qin Shihuangdi. “Swooningly beautiful, furious and thrilling,” this film is packed with amazing martial arts action.
Jackie Chan is a general in the Qin army in this 2005 film. Reincarnated as a modern archaeologist, he discovers a meteorite associated with immortality. Interestingly enough, it was a meteorite that allegedly foretold the death of the emperor at 49.
How cool is this? Chinese archaeologists have announced the discovery of more than 100 terracotta warriors and horses in the burial site of the First Emperor in Xi’an. The warriors were uncovered in Pit One, the largest pit at the site where more than 6,000 soldiers were previously found. Acrobats and entertainers, like the one we have on display at Discovery Times Square, were also found in another pit. To top it off, archaeologists have announced the discovery of an 8-foot tall figure, which the Beijing Review has dubbed the “Yao Ming of the Qin Dynasty.”
Stay tuned for more news on the latest additions to the Terracotta Warrior army, and come see them for yourself at our New York City exhibit!
Got plans for tonight? Join us at Discovery Times Square for an exclusive presentation by some of the leading scholars of the Terracotta Warriors. The event starts at 7:30 pm, and is absolutely free! If you can’t make it tonight, stay tuned for the latest information that will be revealed by the scholars- we’ll post it here!
Last week, Discovery Times Square was proud to host a trio of prominent Chinese scholars to discuss the latest research on the tomb complex of China’s First Emperor, Qin Shihuangdi, and the Terracotta Warriors. The first presentation was by Tian Jing, Deputy Director of the Museum of Qin Shihuangdi’s Tomb, titled “Distinguishing Artistic Characteristics of the Qin Terracotta Army.”
Deputy Director Tian pointed out the difference in appearance between the three general classes of warriors: the generals, the military officers, and the soldiers. “A general’s responsibility and power was greater, consequently these sculptures appear to be more reserved, courageous, stern, and resolute,” observed Tian. “The military officers have a serious and steadfast appearance. The many soldiers generally appear agile, vigilant, brave, or able to face death unflinchingly.” Below, a general (top) and a military officer (bottom).
During her talk, Tian also pointed out the variety of differences in clothing and hair styles that make each soldier so individual. For instance, take a look at this small example of the different facial hair worn by the warriors:
Next week, we’ll feature some information from the second talk of the evening, which was about the ancient highway system of the First Emperor. Want to see the Terracotta Warriors for yourself? Buy tickets here!
In mid-June, Discovery Times Square was proud to host a trio of prominent Chinese scholars to discuss the latest research on the tomb complex of China’s First Emperor, Qin Shihuangdi, and the Terracotta Warriors. Last week, we looked at the first presentation by Tian Jing, Deputy Director of the Museum of Qin Shihuangdi’s Tomb, on the incredible individuality of the Terracotta Warriors. This week, we’ll look at the talk by Zhao Jing, Deputy Director of the Xi’an Centre of Conservation and Restoration, on the highway system of the Qin Dynasty.
Although it may sound pretty boring, highways actually played a really important role in the First Emperor’s unification of China. Remember the tracks that covered wagons created as they moved across the prairies, or how cars in snowy highways follow the tracks of the cars ahead of them? Now imagine covered wagons, or cars, of varying widths. They’d create a haphazard system of ruts that could damage wheels and send drivers careening off the road.
This is what China faced at the time of unification more than 2000 years ago: each of the seven states had chariots and wagons of different widths and heights, so, say, a Qin chariot may have trouble travelling on a Han road. Under the First Emperor, roads and chariot widths across all of China were standardized, enabling people to easily travel across the empire. Roads were carefully maintained, allowing powerful Qin chariots to move more quickly than ever to take on any threat to their new territories.
Archaeologists have not only discovered beautiful bronze chariots, like the two from the First Emperor’s tomb, above, as well as actual ruts preserved in 2,000-year-old roads that show the extraordinary highway system that was created, like the ancient road below. We’ve got a wonderful terracotta charioteer and his horse on display at Discovery Times Square—why don’t you come by and say hello?
The legendary warriors got a bit of a modern upgrade recently at a shopping center in Xi’an, near the site of the tomb of the First Emperor. Now we’re just waiting to see one texting on his smartphone, maybe outside our Times Square exhibit! via
Recently, we’ve been featuring presentations made by prominent Chinese scholars at a Discovery Times Square event held in mid-June. The first presentation was by by Tian Jing, Deputy Director of the Museum of Qin Shihuangdi’s Tomb, on the incredible individuality of the Terracotta Warriors. Then we looked at the talk by Zhao Jing, Deputy Director of the Xi’an Centre of Conservation and Restoration, on the highway system of the Qin Dynasty.The final talk, by Zhang Zhongli, Deputy Director of the Shaanxi Province Institute of Archaeology, covered the technical aspects of the magnificent bronze chariots found near the tomb of the First Emperor in 1978.
One chariot is roughly 10 feet long and 5 feet high, while the other is 7 feet long and 3.5 feet high (see pictures of the reconstructed chariots here). Crafted of more than 7,000 indidually casted bronze parts, they weigh about 5000 pounds total and were adorned with more than 300 gold and silver objects. Zhang disucssed the meticulous restoration work involved in reconstructing the chariots, and how advanced the metallurgical skills of the ancient Chinese craftsmen were.
For more on the chariots, click here.
Want to know what it was like for the people who first discovered and excavated the Terracotta Warriors? This Chinese article (in English) will give you a good look into the lives of some of the men who made that fateful discovery in 1974, and the archaeologists who began the arduous work of uncovering the First Emperor’s massive army. For Yang Zhifa, his discovery has resulted in a job at the local gift shop, where he’s not a fan, apparently, of the media:
Wearing a traditional Chinese-style beige shirt and glasses, gray-haired Yang Zhifa busily signs books in a gift shop in the Museum of Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses, sometimes pausing to puff his long-stemmed pipe and blow a cloud of smoke. A huge photo showing U.S. President Bill Clinton meeting him on June 26, 1998, hangs on the wall behind him.
Yang was one of the farmers who first dug up fragments of the terra-cotta army when they were drilling a well in Xiyang Village of Lintong County, 35 kilometers east of Xi’an, capital of northwest China’s Shaanxi Province, 35 years ago.
The 72-year-old bid farewell to farming 14 years ago to work a nine-to-five routine. He now gets a salary of 1,000 yuan (147 U.S. dollars) a month from the gift shop for signing books of which he is not the author.
Yang silently immerses himself in the autographing. His signature is hard to read. If a tourist raises camera, he uses his pipe to tap the plate in front of him, which reads “no photo, no video.”
“I’m tired of signing and the noisy tourists, and I hate those tabloid reporters,” says Yang.
Read more about the people who discovered and excavated the Terracotta Warriors here.