New light shed onto sculp­tures

Co­op­er­a­tive re­search agree­ment delves into pro­duc­tion process of Ter­ra­cot­taWar­riors

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By CE­CILY LIU in Lon­don ce­cily.liu@ mail.chi­nadai­

China and the UK re­newed a pact to re­search the pro­duc­tion process of the fa­mousTer­ra­cot­taWar­riors in Xi’an, Shaanxi province.

The co­op­er­a­tion started in 2006 and dis­cov­ered that the war­riors were pro­duced by work­ers in separate groups in separate fac­to­ries and then as­sem­bled to­gether, shed­ding new light on the pub­lic’s per­cep­tion of Em­peror Qin Shi Huang, known for his love of unity and cen­tral­iza­tion.

The war­riors, now a fa­mous tourist at­trac­tion, are a col­lec­tion of ter­ra­cotta sculp­tures de­pict­ing the armies ofQin Shi­Huang, the first Em­peror of China.

Dat­ing from ap­prox­i­mately the late third cen­tury BCE, the col­lec­tion has more than 8,000 sol­diers, and ar­chae­ol­o­gists have al­ways been fas­ci­nated by how tech­nol­ogy at the time could cre­ate such a large scale ar­ti­fact.

The re­search project is be­tween Uni­ver­sity Col­lege Lon­don and Em­peror Qin Shi­Huang’sMau­soleum Site Mu­seum.

Other dis­cov­er­ies in­clude the ma­te­ri­als used in the pro­duc­tion, the or­der of pro­duc­tion, and how work­ers or­ga­nized them­selves so­cially to pro­duce the col­lec­tion.

The re­sults came af­ter the use of a wide range of analy­ses, in­clud­ing chem­i­cal and geo­met­ric.

“It’s fan­tas­tic to be able to bring sci­en­tific ap­proaches to study such an amaz­ing ar­chae­o­log­i­cal dis­cov­ery. The project has a strong com­bi­na­tion of his­tor­i­cal and sci­en­tific in­ter­ests,” said Mary Ful­brook, dean of the faculty of so­cial and his­tor­i­cal sci­ences at Col­lege Lon­don.

Jiang Su­nan, min­is­ter coun­selor for Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy at the Chi­nese em­bassy in the UK, said the project is a good ex­am­ple of grow­ing aca­demic co­op­er­a­tion be­tween China and the UK.

“China has a lot of in­ter­est­ing his­tor­i­cal ar­ti­facts and strong re­search in­ter­ests, and the UK has strong sci­en­tific re­search ex­per­tise and meth­ods. The two coun­tries have high com­ple­men­tar­ity and great po­ten­tial for sci­ence and in­no­va­tion col­lab­o­ra­tion,” the min­is­ter coun­selor said.

Alis­dair Walker, team leader ofChina de­vel­op­ment at the UK’s For­eign and Com­mon­wealth Of­fice, said the col­lab­o­ra­tion is sig­nif­i­cant within the con­text of the two coun­try’s grow­ing cul­tural ex­changes, which were fur­ther strength­ened by Chi­nese pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping’s visit to the UK last year.

The re­search will con­tinue in sev­eral di­rec­tions. One is the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of the ac­tual sources of raw ma­te­ri­als that went into mak­ing the war­riors.

An­other is the ap­pli­ca­tion of the ter­ra­cotta war­rior’s sci­en­tific dis­cov­er­ies to more mau­soleum works else­where in the world, such as those of Ro­man em­per­ors and me­dieval rulers. It can also sup­port the anal­y­sis of anti-rust tech­nol­ogy.

“No doubt the Ter­ra­cotta War­riors are among the most sig­nif­i­cant ar­chae­o­log­i­cal dis­cov­er­ies glob­ally, and it is in­ter­est­ing to look be­yond the scale and so­phis­ti­ca­tion of the work, to un­der­stand how it is put to­gether,” saidMar­cosMarti­non-Tor­res, a pro­fes­sor of ar­chae­o­log­i­cal sci­ence at Uni­ver­sity Col­lege Lon­don. Uni­ver­sity

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