THE FINDING

It is March 1974 and south of the Xiyang Village, situated in the Yanzhai Township, Six farmers are getting ready to dig a water well. As soon as they break ground, A few shards of clay emerge. Five days into the dig and the earth is becoming more solid layer by layer as strange ceramic fragments of unusual size come to light. Finally the farmers uncover earthenware heads and limbs, Bronze pieces of crossbow and arrow tips. Have they found the temple of a village god or one of the Buddha’s disciples? Quivering in fear of disturbing the peace of the Gods and incurring their wrath, the farmers lay down their tools. They offer up prayers which should prevent the worst and hurry back to the village.

This is where an official from Lintong County, Zhao Kangmin, comes into the picture, Responsible for inspecting the site. Kangmin was responsible for ‘protecting historical artefacts’ and visited the site of the find together with anexpert; he immediately recognised the high value of the unearthed statues. He suspected that they may even originate from the Qing Dynasty (1644 –1911). The figures were taken to Lintong to be restored and the farmers received a one-off reward of 30 Yuan (equivalent to 2 US dollars) for their discovery.

Verification and opening to the public

Not long afterwards a team of archaeologists met up in Xiyang and on 11th July 1975 they announced their sensational news: the discovery had been verified as the 2000-year-old Terracotta Army of the first Emperor of China.

The excavation continued across an area of 20,000 square metres until 1979, allowing visitors to visit the place where the treasures were discovered.