The newly unearthed pit of terracotta warriors and horses in Jinan, capital city of East China's Shandong Province, has excited archaeologists around the country.
"This is the country's third-largest pit of terracotta warriors and horses," said Professor Cui Dayong of Shandong University, who is leading a team of archaeologists excavating the warriors and horses at the site.
More than 100 coloured terracotta warriors and horses had been unearthed by yesterday afternoon since the team began digging last Friday.
According to Cui, aristocrats were buried in the pit more than 1,700 years ago, during the Eastern Han Dynasty (AD25-220).
"The layout of the warriors and horses provides a vivid picture of the typical formation of cavalrymen, chariots and foot soldiers for the aristocracy when going to battle at the time, and this has only been read about in books or seen in ancient drawings before," Cui said.
"The tomb owner is probably a relative of the emperor but this cannot be confirmed yet."
Located on the mountainside in the Weishan Scenic Area about 80 kilometers from Jinan, the tomb is 9.7 meters long, 1.9 meters wide and 70 centimeters deep.
The warriors and horses were made to a high standard, and the excavation will be very valuable for the study of ancient history, Cui said.
In the front, there are lines of cavalrymen, then chariots and, at the back, the foot soldiers.
There are a total of 30 cavalrymen on sturdy crimson horses in five lines. The horses' ears and tails can move because they are attached via holes on the heads and bottoms.
The three chariots are in the middle and are among the biggest ceramic chariots from the Han Dynasty to have been unearthed in China.
Approximately 80 foot soldiers are marching behind. These terracotta figures hold spears and shields and are smaller than the cavalrymen in the front.
(China Daily December 4, 2002)