Born in a time of turmoil in China’s history, known as the Warring States period (475-221 BCE), Qin Shihuang, or First Emperor, founded the short-lived Qin dynasty (221-210 BCE). He forged the seven warring states into one nation, and his legacy of a centralized bureaucratic state would be carried on to successive dynasties over the next two millennia.
Driven by an eagerness for immortality, the First Emperor began to plan his burial from the moment he ascended to the throne at age 13. The complex plan and symbolic content of the mausoleum, as gradually revealed by the ongoing archaeological excavations, are far beyond anyone’s imagination.
The terracotta army was discovered in 1974; later, Chinese archaeologists excavated three pits containing more than 7,000 terracotta warriors with horses and chariots, all designed to protect the First Emperor in the afterlife. His tomb was an elaborate subterranean palace, a parallel world that would enable his rule after his death.
Tickets are regularly $18-20, which is far less than a plane ticket to Xi’an but is still quite expensive. To save some money take advantage of free days sponsored by Target. The exhibition is free to the public on Target Family Days: Sunday, November 11; Sunday, December 9; and Sunday, January 13, 2013!