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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

3/17/2014 (6 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Crossbow, triggers were made by teams of craftspeople

The life-size terra-cotta army buried alongside China's first emperor was among the 20th century's most amazing archaeological finds. Scientists have now figured out how the bronze triggers for the crossbows of the 8,000 terra-cotta warriors were made.

Craftspeople sculpted about 8,000 colorful warriors, probably using real human beings as inspiration and those warriors wore stone armor and 'wielded' lances, swords and crossbows.

Craftspeople sculpted about 8,000 colorful warriors, probably using real human beings as inspiration and those warriors wore stone armor and "wielded" lances, swords and crossbows.

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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/17/2014 (6 months ago)

Published in Asia Pacific

Keywords: Terracotta warriors, craftsmen, afterlife


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Researchers say that teams of craftspeople worked in small groups to produce the bronze pieces in batches for the tomb of ancient Emperor Qin Shi Huang.

About 8,000 Terracotta Warriors were buried in three pits less than a mile to the northeast of the m

About 8,000 Terracotta Warriors were buried in three pits less than a mile to the northeast of the mausoleum of the First Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huangdi.


According to a new study detailed in the March issue of Antiquity, historical documents suggest that soon after Emperor Qin Shi Huang ascended to the throne in 246 B.C., he began work on his tomb near Xi'an, China.

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First unearthed in the 1970s, the tomb revealed thousands of lifelike terra-cotta statues of artisans, musicians, officials, horses and soldiers.

Emperor Qin Shi Huang was buried with everything he needed for the afterlife, including an army comp

Emperor Qin Shi Huang was buried with everything he needed for the afterlife, including an army complete with life-size clay horses.


It's estimated that the astonishing project conscripted 700,000 laborers, many of whom were convicts or people who were in debt to the empire, study co-author Xiuzhen Janice Li says. Li was an archaeologist who was at the University College London at the time of the new work and is now at the Emperor Qin Shi Huang's Mausoleum Site Museum in China.

Ensuring the emperor's military power and resources in the afterlife was the reason behind the massive undertaking.

Craftspeople sculpted about 8,000 colorful warriors, probably using real human beings as inspiration and those warriors wore stone armor and "wielded" lances, swords and crossbows.


This terracotta warrior is thought to represent a general who would have commanded the footsoldiers.

This terracotta warrior is thought to represent a general who would have commanded the footsoldiers.


It remained a mystery as to how these ancient weapons were made. The crossbows were made of wood or bamboo that rotted long ago, and only the tips and triggers for the bows remained, Li says.

Li and her colleagues visually inspected and measured about 216 of the five-part crossbow triggers from the mausoleum. They found that the lack of wear on the metal pieces suggests the weapons were never used in actual battle, but were instead built solely for the tomb.


The first Qin emperor needed not just soldiers, but bureaucrats like this one, to run his kingdom in

The first Qin emperor needed not just soldiers, but bureaucrats like this one, to run his kingdom in the afterlife.


The team also analyzed the spots where triggers were found in the tomb, as well as the variation in the size and shape of the pieces.

The pieces were mostly uniform, suggesting the interlocking trigger parts were made in the same or nearly-identical molds and produced in small batches. Each batch of the trigger pieces was likely then assembled in small cells, or workshops, perhaps headed by an overseer.  That model contrasts with the "assembly line" hypothesis that some archaeologists thought might have been used.


Even the horses in the massive terracotta army were each unique; no two were alike.

Even the horses in the massive terracotta army were each unique; no two were alike.


Study co-author Marcos Martinón-Torres, an archaeologist at the University College London, says that the organization into small workshops was similar to the structure the emperor imposed on the rest of society in ancient China. "He abolished any privileges inherited by blood, and the population was divided in small groups that were collectively responsible for their adherence to imperial laws," Martinón-Torres wrote in an email.

"For example, if someone in one of these groups committed a crime, all of them were held responsible, unless they reported the culprit and allowed them to be punished."

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