Terracotta Army: The 1974 Discovery Of 8,000 Ancient Clay Warriors

By | March 26, 2020

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The Terracotta Army guards the Emperor's tomb. (Photo by API/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Like many stories of fantastic discoveries from the past, the tale of how the Terracotta Army of ancient China was found begins with farmers digging in a field. It was 1974, and the region around Xian, China was experiencing a drought. A group of seven farmers decided to dig a well to supply their farm fields, but what they found was even more valuable than water. The discovery of the Terracotta Army on this day in 1974 was one of the most important archaeological discoveries in China and, indeed, the world. 

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Farmers digging a well discovered the Terracotta Army. (bbc.com)

Unearthing A Treasure

While the men dug their well on March 29, 1974, a farmer named Yang Zhifa felt his shovel strike hard, red clay about three feet below the ground. Upon investigation, the farmers uncovered a number of artifacts, including some old bronze arrowheads, but the most astonishing find was two life-size heads made out of terracotta.