Making Weapons for the Terracotta Army

Marcos Martinón-Torres, Xiuzhen Janice Li, Andrew Bevan, Yin Xia, Zhao Kun, Thilo Rehren

Abstract

The Terracotta Army of the First Emperor of China is one of the most emblematic archaeological sites in the world. Many questions remain about the logistics of technology, standardisation and labour organisation behind the creation of such a colossal construction in just a few decades over 2,000 years ago. An ongoing research project co-ordinated between the UCL Institute of Archaeology and the Emperor Qin Shihang's Terracotta Army Museum is beginning to address some of these questions. This paper outlines some results of the typological, metric, microscopic, chemical and spatial analyses of the 40,000 bronze weapons recovered with the Terracotta Warriors. Thanks to a holistic approach developed specifically for this project, it is possible to reveal remarkable aspects of the organisation of the Qin workforce in production cells, of the standardisation, efficiency and quality-control procedures employed, and of the sophisticated technical knowledge of the weapon-makers.

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How to cite: Martinón-Torres, M, Li, X.J., Bevan, A, Xia, Y, Kun, Z and Rehren, T 2011. Making Weapons for the Terracotta Army. Archaeology International 13:65-75, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5334/ai.1316

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License
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This article has been peer reviewed (journal peer review policy).

Published on 22 October 2011.

ISSN: 2048-4194 | Published by Ubiquity Press | Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.