The day started with a wonderful lecture from Dr. Israelsen. He taught us about contemporary Chinese economy and the problems China is likely to soon face as the repercussions of the One Child Policy come in to full swing. It was great to have his insight and knowledge concerning an area most of the students didn’t know much about.
After this, we went to a factory to see how the famous Terra Cotta warriors are made. It was great to see firsthand the many different steps involved in the process. Plaster molds are used to make the warriors, which are hollow. On the small figures, there are holes in the bottom that are later covered. But, with the larger models the entire body is made with a hole at the neck at the head is added later. It was neat to see this process from beginning to end, especially since the method used today is very similar to what the ancient Chinese would have used several thousand years ago when the originals were made.
This was followed by a lunch at the Wonders of the World complex/museum. It felt a little odd to see a pyramid and sphinx in the middle of China. After lunch, we headed for the actual Terra Cotta pits. To think of the history at the site was mind boggling. The warriors were built to protect the tomb of the first emperor of united China. Slightly paranoid, upon completion he had the 7,000 workers that had built his Terra Cotta army put to death so no enemies could discover and desecrate his mausoleum. This is why there is such a huge gap between when the pits were built and when they were discovered.
While most of the models made today are not painted, the originals were painted. Unfortunately we were unable to see this color as it disappears within 30 minutes of being exposed to the air. This is a big part of the reason why there are still Terra Cotta warrior pits to be uncovered. Archeologists don’t want to continue to uncover pits until they discover a process whereby they can preserve the color.
Then, the group had the evening free. Different groups of students went a did a myriad of different activities from biking around the ancient Xian city wall to wandering around the local night markets. The sense of history we’ve seen while in Xian has been exciting, particularly when contrasted with the more urban areas.