Chinese officials announced this week that the world-famous tomb of Emperor Qin Shihuang, also known as the location of the Terracotta Warriors, was recently broken into by robbers. Nine men are being held in connection with the break-in, during which several ancient coffins were damaged and priceless relics removed.
According to reports, robbers dug a 90 foot tunnel leading into the mausoleum complex, complete with electric lights and ventilation fans. Though the robbery was discovered last month, the news has only recently come to light due to the sensitivity of the story. In recent years Xi’an, China, the city that houses the tomb and Warriors, has become an increasingly popular destination for tourists.
The looting of ancient relics is an increasingly profitable business; robbers often sell their finds to collectors on the black market for large sums. The larger question is what do about it: as these priceless artifacts disappear, whether by theft or vandalism, the damage is not so easily replaced.
[Flickr photo by kevinpoh]
When the world’s tennis greats arrive in Shanghai for the ATP Tennis Masters Tournament in November, they’ll be greeted by life-sized sculptures of themselves immortalized as Terracotta Warriors. In a nod to the world-famous Terracotta Army, The Association of Tennis Professionals has commissioned eight sculptures of the world’s top eight tennis players, including Roger Federer and Andy Roddick. They’ve hired sculptor Laury Dizengremel to complete the pieces.
Federer’s statue has been completed and shown in pictures, but the rest won’t be unveiled until the tournament in November. Check out this video for a glimpse at what goes into each finished product.
The original Terracotta Army was created in 210-209 BC to be buried with the Emperor of Qin. But instead of one sculptor, there were 700,000 working on the originals, and it supposedly took 38 years to complete them all.
Though you might be thinking about heading to China to check out the Great Wall, dozens of Chinese soldiers are heading to London. Okay, so the soldiers are part of the famed Terracotta Army, and their destination is the British Museum, but they’re still coming.
For those who don’t know, the Terracotta Army was discovered in 1974 by farmers seeking water. Imagine their surprise when they overturned the soil, and the face of an ancient warrior glowered back at them. So far, about 1000 terracotta figures have been unearthed; experts believe there may be 7000 more buried under ground. (Can’t picture what thousands of clay warriors look like? Check out this pano of them in an exhibition hall.)
The army attacks London in September, and in addition to the warriors, the exhibition will include bureaucrats, musicians, and acrobats. Wait — bureaucrats?! According to Jane Portal, the museum’s curator, “Since China is famous for inventing bureaucracy, it is appropriate that the First Emperor felt the need for officials in his afterlife.” Apparently, the figures are thought to be bureaucrats because they wear no armor, and because they carry knives and knife-sharpeners for scraping off and erasing mistakes. Despite thousands of years, it appears the role of the bureaucrat hasn’t changed much.