We took our second overnight train to Xi’an (in its glory days, a millenia ago, known as Chang’an), the cradle of Ancient Chinese civilization, the starting point of the Silk Road.
Its age is readily apparent, especially when driving into the city thru its ancient city walls, which were constructed in the 14th century during the Ming Dynasty.
However, what the city is most known for, is located a bit of a drive to the east, and that is the Terracotta Warriors. Qin Shi Huang was the first unifier of China, beginning the Qin Dynasty, and as such, he expected to not only rule in life, but in death. Thus, the terracotta army, numbering in the thousands, is an army tasked to guard over his soul and protect him in his death, just as his army had protected him in his life.
The mausoleum took nearly 40 years to construct, and thus, was not completed when he died at the young age of 50. It is said that “thousands of officials were killed and thousands of craftsmen were buried alive to keep the tomb a secret.” Unsurprisingly, peasants and craftsmen revolted after, and went into the tombs, and did destroy quite a bit.
The tomb was discovered in 1974, and much of the army is still unearthed. This is due in part to the fact that have not yet figured out how to expose the warriors without damaging them – the coloring most specifically. That said, they are still working on the pits at night, piecing bits back together.