Archaeological excavations in an ancient Chinese pit have revealed the presence of a miniature terracotta army, that has remained undisturbed for more than 2000 years.
The figures, which measure between 20 and 30 centimeters, bear a great resemblance to those of the famous terracotta warriors built for Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China.
In addition to building the massive Terracotta Army most people remember him for, he was also the first ancient Chinese ruler to search for an elixir that would allow him to live forever.
According to the state news agency Xinhua, an analysis performed on 2,000-year-old texts which are believed to date back to the emperor’s rule have revealed a strong obsession the emperor had for an elixir that would bring him eternal life.
He claimed that his dynasty would last at least “10,000 generations.”
The documents in question, as explained by the Smithsonian, belong to a cache of around 36,000 wooden strips inscribed with ancient calligraphy. The ‘documents’ were discovered in an abandoned well in a county in the western Hunan province in 2002.
The documents–wooden strips, were commonly used as writing materials in ancient China. They date back from around 259 B.C. to 210 B.C., which, according to experts, is a period that overlaps with the emperor’s rule.
The Mini Terracotta Army
According to reports, in the miniature terracotta army, we can distinguish cavalry soldiers (some of them guiding chariots) and about 300 infantry warriors.
There are also figures representing musicians and watchtowers.
According to Live Science, the pit that contained the miniature army is located near the Chinese city of Linzi.
The discovery of the army was made in 2007, and the first study performed on the remains appeared in 2016, although written in Chinese, and published in Wenwu–the Institute of Archaeology, of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Since the study was published in Chinese, no one really paid much attention to what had been discovered until it was eventually translated and published in Chinese Cultural Relics.
From there, the discovery, as well as the study, were pocked up by the rest of the world.
It is believed that the pit, thought to date back some 2,100 years could belong to the prince Liu Hong, one of the children of Wu, the seventh emperor of China.
“The form and scale of the pit suggest that it accompanies a large burial site,” wrote archaeologists in a paper published recently in the journal Chinese Cultural Relics. The “vehicles, cavalry and infantry in square formation were reserved for burials of the monarchs or meritorious officials or princes,” the archaeologists wrote.
Archaeologists maintain that the figures were manufactured a century later than the life-size terracotta army on which they would have been inspired.