XI'AN, July 17 (Xinhua) -- Archeologists have found up to 100 terracotta
warriors and an army officer at the world heritage site in Xi'an, northwest
China's Shanxi Province, a month after they began a third excavation of the
"Our most exciting discovery so far is the army officer," said chief
archeologist Xu Weihong.
He said the life-sized figure was found lying on its stomach behind four
chariots. "We can't see its face yet, but the leather gallus on its back is
Xu said the gallus was typical of army officers in the Qin Dynasty (221
B.C.- 207 B.C.). "We need extra care to bring it out of the pit and restore its
original color, which may take a few months."
He said the figure was originally painted in different colors. "The
original colors have faded after more than 2,000 years of decay, but a corner of
the officer's robe suggested it was in colors other than the grayish clay."
Except for its broken head, the army officer was largely intact compared
with other newly-discovered clay figures, most of which were found seriously
damaged, some even fragmentary, Xu said.
Liu Zhancheng, head of the archeology arm of the Xi'an-based terracotta
museum, estimated the year-long excavation would hopefully unearth about 150
Richly colored clay figures were unearthed from the mausoleum of
Qinshihuang, the first emperor of a united China, in the previous two
excavations, but once they were exposed to the air they began to lose their
luster and turn an oxidized grey.
The 230 by 62-meter No. 1 pit, which is currently under excavation, was
believed to contain about 6,000 life-sized terracotta figures, more than 1,000
of which were found in previous excavations, said the museum's curator Wu
The State Administration of Cultural Heritage approved the museum's dig of
200 square meters of the site, and the excavation is likely to continue if it
Most experts believe No. 1 pit, the largest of all three pits, houses a
rectangular army of archers, infantrymen and charioteers that the emperor hoped
would help him rule in the afterlife.
The army was one of the greatest archeological finds of modern times. It
was discovered in Lintong county, 35 km east of Xi'an, in 1974 by peasants who
were digging a well.
The first formal excavation of the site lasted for six years from 1978 to
1984 and produced 1,087 clay figures. A second excavation, in 1985, lasted a
year and was cut short for technical reasons.
The discovery, listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO in December 1987,
has turned Xi'an into one of China's major tourist attractions.