Segments in this Video

Introduction: Emperor's Ghost Army (03:51)


More than 2,000 years old, China's terracotta army was only recently rediscovered. Archaeologists are finding out how and why the army was created.

Mystery of the Ghost Army (03:24)

The terracotta army was created about 200 B.C., but there is no record of it in Chinese historical sources.

Rediscovering the Terracotta Army (02:27)

In 1974, Mr. Yang and other farmers were digging a well when they began unearthing chunks of terracotta. They soon realized it was a statue. Archaeologists uncovered three large pits of smashed clay warriors.

Terracotta Army Museum (01:35)

The Terracotta Army Museum houses the recovered statues, weapons, and art from the archaeological site. The museum joined with University College London to study how the army was created.

Qin Shi Huang, First Emperor of China (02:47)

Qin Shi Huang became emperor in 246 B.C. He unified China, but he was a cruel tyrant. He was also obsessed with immortality and commissioned a vast tomb so he could reign in the afterlife.

Tomb of Qin Shi Huang (03:03)

Though the first emperor's burial mound has not been excavated, historian Sima Qian described it as containing a miniature replica of the empire. Other chambers contained replicas of acrobats, animals, chariots, and more; the terracotta army guarded everything.

Creating the Terracotta Warriors (03:42)

The creators used molds for different limbs and torsos which could be used in any number of combinations to create unique warriors.

Comparing Clay Figures Via 3-D Modeling (02:47)

Archaeologists combine still photos into composite 3-D images to see if each clay figure is truly unique.

Changed Face of the Army (01:53)

Bits of paint led archaeologists to believe that the terracotta figures were once brightly painted.

Weapons of the Terracotta Army (03:09)

Archaeologist Janice Li uses silicon casting and an electron microscope to study details of the bronze weapons once held by the terracotta soldiers. The weapons are the earliest examples of rotary lathe-sharpened weapons in the world.

Halberd as the Principle Qin Infantry Defense (02:13)

Military historian Mike Loades demonstrates the effectiveness of the halberd, or ji, against calvary.

Chinese Crossbows (02:52)

Crossbows allowed untrained Qin fighters to quickly become master archers. Bronze crossbow triggers were mass-produced.

Effective Crossbow Arrows (03:31)

Archaeologists use an x-ray fluorescent spectrometer to determine the chemical makeup of the arrows interred with the terracotta army. The arrowheads and tangs have different amounts of tin, allowing for greater hardness in the points and more flexibility in the tangs.

Impact of Crossbow Arrows (03:39)

Loades tests replica Qin arrows with a modern crossbow, which approximates the power of a Qin crossbow. The arrow easily penetrates layers of lamellar armor, soft textile padding, and a felt coat.

Forced Labor Built the Qin Empire (02:41)

In Qin Shi Huang's massive burial complex, archaeologists discovered mass graves, filled with the bodies of workers. Each body has an inscribed death certificate. Many workers were convicts or owed money to the government.

Qin Workforce Organization (03:01)

Based on uniformity of artifact design, scientists determined the mausoleum workforce functioned in cells; versatility was emphasized.

Production Model (02:27)

Workers had to record their names on their work. Craftsmen, supervised by officials under the prime minister, oversaw the workers. Incompetence was treated as a crime.

Social Organization in the Qin Empire (02:52)

In the Qin Empire, individuals were obliged to report the infractions of their neighbors, or the entire neighborhood would be punished. Qin Shi Huang died 10 years after unifying the empire; the terracotta army revealed the wonders of his empire to the world.

Credits: Emperor's Ghost Army (00:55)

Credits: Emperor's Ghost Army

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In central China, a vast underground mausoleum conceals a terracotta army of cavalry, infantry, horses, chariots, weapons, acrobats, and musicians, all built to serve China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, in the afterlife. Lost for more than 2,200 years, this 8,000-strong clay army waited to help the first emperor rule beyond the grave. Now an archaeological campaign is probing the thousands of figures entombed in the mausoleum. With exclusive access to pioneering research, Emperor's Ghost Army reveals the techniques and organization that enabled the manufacture of the clay figures and the lethal weapons they carried. NOVA tests the power of these weapons with high-action experiments and reports on revolutionary archaeological techniques used to explore the site. Distributed by PBS Distribution.

Length: 54 minutes

Item#: BVL93464

Copyright date: ©2014

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