Published June 12, 2012
After centuries of standing guard, their shift is finally over.
Fresh excavations near the tomb of China’s first emperor have revealed 110 new terra-cotta warriors that have been covered up for 2,200 years, archaeologists said -- adding to the army of over 8,000 solders.
The army was first discovered by farmers in the spring of 1974, as a peasant dug a well in a field near the tomb of the Qin Emperor, reported AFP. That massive troop grew on Monday with the discovery of 110 new warriors, as well as 12 pottery horses, parts of chariots, weapons and tools.
"The ... excavation on the 200-square-meter (2,152-square-feet) site has found a total of 110 terra-cotta figurines," Shen Maosheng from the Qin Shihuang Terra-Cotta Warriors and Horses Museum -- which was built on and oversees the tomb -- told AFP.
"The most significant discovery this time around is that the relics that were found were well-preserved and colorfully painted," Shen, deputy head of the museum's archaeology department, said.
The existence of colors preserved after two millennia was a surprise to the archaeologists. The other figurines recovered and on display in the museum are of a uniform earthen color, the hues from red clay and charcoal long since worn away. Some even have painted eyeballs and eyelashes.
But the new figurines aren’t in perfect condition: According to Reuters, this group of soldiers fell prey to arson and looting when military leader Xiang Yu rebelled against and overthrew the Qin Emperor.
"We have found large quantities of red clay and charcoal along with holes for robbing in the major pit," said Shen Maosheng, who is leading one of the teams.
The new find is believed to be only a fraction of the warriors remaining to be discovered.
According to the museum’s website, it houses approximately 8,000 clay warriors and horses as well as more than 10,000 bronze weapons retrieved from the pits.