New light shed onto sculptures
Cooperative research agreement delves into production process of TerracottaWarriors
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