Seeing the terracotta warriors, in the city of Xi’an, was definitely a highlight of this trip for me.
The main pit (pit 1) is the one you have probably seen photos of. It is an archeological excavation site that is completely undercover. The terracotta statues lie, broken on the ground where the original roof has caved in. The warriors are excavated, conserved, restored and then returned to their original position on the floor of the tomb complex. I found the area where the partly restored statues were located to be the most interesting to draw.
The figure on the right hand side was partially wrapped in plastic cling film.
Tables and other equipment are set up on the ‘ground’ level of the dig. Other parts of the pit have been partially excavated and recovered with plastic and a protective layer of soil. I was particularly struck by the statues of soldiers around the edges of the pit, they all face outward, still waiting to confront approaching enemies.
The site itself looks deserted, except for the security guards. I understand that the archeologists work after closing time. I’m sure they would be driven crazy if they had to work under the gaze of the thousands of tourists that visit the site daily.
There are two other pits currently being excavated. Pit 3 is the smallest of the three and contains statues of officers, a small ritual area and this lovely group of four horses.
At this point I was so caught up with sketching that I used up all my ‘free time’ and missed seeing the two bronze chariots that have also been excavated and were on display in a separate building. Such are the perils of traveling on an organized tour.
There are clearly decades of excavation to be done here and at present the Chinese government has made the decision not to excavate the main burial mound, which can be seen as you drive towards where the terracotta warriors remain.