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Guarding the Emperor For Eternity

China's terracotta warriors at the Field Museum


Imagine being so powerful that you build an army that will guard you for an eternity. That’s exactly what China’s first emperor, Qin Shihuang, did to protect all his treasures and belongings. Qin ended years of bloodshed and unified all his people, following the period of Warring States between 475 and 221 B.C. He built defensive walls, set a standard currency and created a common writing system, all of which would remain in place for 2,200 years.

Before Qin’s death, he commissioned a commanding tomb to hold all his treasures and it included a hidden underground empire. To protect it all, he had an 8,000 soldier army built out of terracotta, an army that included everything from soldiers to archers and even horses, with many of the statues towering more than six feet tall.

In 1974, farmers in China’s Shaanxi province unearthed some of the statues, which initiated a massive 22-square-mile excavation site. The terracotta army, along with many other discovered treasures, is now on display at the Field Museum through Jan. 8, 2017.

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