The Xi' An city wall is the most complete city wall remaining in China. It stands 40 feet tall, 40-46 feet wide at the top and 50-60 feet thick at the bottom. It covers 8.5 miles in length with a deep moat surrounding it. Every 400 feet there is a rampart which extends out from the main wall. All together, there are 98 ramparts, which were built to defend against the enemy climbing up. Each rampart has a sentry building, in which the soldiers could protect the entire wall without exposing themselves to the enemy. Besides, the distance between every two ramparts is just within the range of an arrow shot from either side. On the outer side of the city wall, there are 5,948 crenellations, or battlements. On the inner side, parapets were built to protect the soldiers from falling off. The wall is now open for walking and bicycling.
40 Feet does not sound like much until you climb it. 40 ft
equals a 4 story building with no elevators.
On April 17th, 2013, we visited Xi An and the terracotta warriors that were found by a farmer digging a water well in 1974. He was awarded an equivalent of about $10.00 for his find; however he is now selling autographed photo books in the gift ship for $50.00 a copy. Can't feel to sorry for him. Undoubtedly he is the richest "farmer" in the valley.
To get a full history of these amazing figures, a total of an estimated 8000 go to:
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There are three different excavations or pits that have been found. This description is from signage at the site and differs slightly from the Wikipedia entry. The sites , after the initial discovery by the farmer were covered by enclosed structures prior to any archaeological excavations. It is thought that ground penetrating radar was used to survey the area to determine the exact dimensions of the sites. Historical writings and physical evidence indicates that each site was covered by a structure when constructed. Following the emperor's death there were uprisings and much of this structure was burned and many of the artifacts destroyed or looted. Each warrior had a real weapon so most of them were "repurposed" to arm the real armies. Much excavation and restoration remains to be done. These sites will keep archeologists busy for many years to come.
View from the right front corner of the main site. It is estimated that over 6000 figures exist in this pit.
and file of the main army of warriors. Note that some are facing sideways to protect against a flank attack.
The round structure shown is believed to be the base of the supporting structure for the original cover that protected this army during the emperor's time
You may be wondering about the different colors of the photos. The exhibition was illuminated by a combination of incandescent, LED, florescent and daylight. Each provides a different color hue to photographs. When they are combined, the resulting colorization in photos is unbelievable. Sort of a psychedelic LSD mishmash. This may have been done intentionally to prevent photographers such as myself from getting to quality photos and selling them. I used different color filters and other means to try and return the photos to what the human eye sees but was not always successful. A few I converted to black & White to give a better representation. Some of the figures were enclosed in glass cases which resulted in additional psychedelic color reflections. All told it was a photographic challenge.
So how did these warriors get buried in the first place? It appears that the figures were situated below ground level in pits and covered with thatched and clay covered roofs. This cover protruded 6-9 feet above natural ground level. Some of these covers were burned following the emperor's death and the resulting turmoil. This burning and subsequent collapse of the roofs appears to be what crushed some of the figures. Most likely a series of floods carried silt and clay into the area oven many hundred years slowing burying them. It appears that the overburden was mechanically removed and then each figure carefully dug out of the surrounding material. I was not; however, able to find any study that specifically answered this question
The area where the sign is where the well was dug that originally
found this archeological site. It is amazing that it was dug at the edge
rather than in the middle.
Research indicates that only a few master molds were used in the making of the figures. Afterwards individual details were added to make them individual. These horses obviously came from the same mold.
A bronze bridle on a head mold.
A war chariot that has been uncovered but the chariot yet to be.